9 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day From Home

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated

With many of us homebound thanks to COVID-19, this Earth Day celebration—which marks the 50th anniversary of the event—is going to look a little different than in years past. But just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t participate. From making a sign for your window to making glacier goo, here’s how you can celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your home.

1. Make A Window Sign

One of the easiest ways to celebrate this Earth Day is to make a sign for your window. If you need a catchy slogan, EarthDay.org has some suggestions.

2. And 3. Participate in Earthday.org’s 24 Hours of Action and Earth Challenge 2020

On Wednesday, April 22, EarthDay.org will “issue 24 actions for the planet that you can take now, wherever you are,” according to its website. Follow along on EarthDay.org or on social media (@earthdaynetwork) for new challenges every hour of Earth Day. The organization is also running Earth Challenge 2020, a citizen science project that will call on users to report observations of air quality and plastic pollution. You can find out more here.

4. AMNH’s Earthfest at Home

New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is celebrating Earth Day this year with its virtual Earthfest, a day-long slate of activities including an instructional gardening workshop; a glacier goo how-to that demonstrates glacier physics; a live watch party that takes you around the world, and another that’s out of this world; and an Earth-themed trivia night. Find out how you can participate here.

5. USC’s Online Earth Day Celebration

The University of Southern California (USC) will run forums over the course of April 22, 23, and 24, including a spring career fair, an innovation panel, and a citizen science project. You can see all of the events and register here.

6. Earth Day 50/50: Looking Back, Moving Forward

On April 22, the Earth Institute at Columbia University will host a live webcast featuring scientists and experts called “Earth Day 50/50: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” covering the history of Earth Day, the latest in climate research, and ways to build a sustainable planet in the future. You can register here, and check out Columbia’s other Earth Day offerings—which includes a seminar for kids on the science of microplasticshere.

7. WWF’s #ArtForEarth

This week, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) is asking people to create art that shows their appreciation for, and the importance of, nature using the hashtag #ArtForEarth. Each day has a theme; appropriately, the theme on Earth Day is One Earth. You can find out more here.

8. NASA’s #EarthDayatHome

To help us all celebrate Earth Day virtually, NASA has put together a website chock-full of resources, from a webquest showing how its scientists study the Earth to a citizen science project/game identifying corals in the Great Barrier Reef. They’ve also put together a 50th anniversary kit featuring games, activities, photos, and more. (You can also check out NASA at Home and NASA STEM at Home.) Participants can share how they’re celebrating Earth Day on social media with the hashtag #EarthDayatHome.

9. Earth Optimism Summit

Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, which runs from April 22 to 26, “[showcases] stories of both small- and large-scale actions, framing the conversation and demonstrating that success is possible.” It will feature movie nights, virtual workshops on subjects like how animals bring us happiness and another on fighting pandemics, interviews with experts, and more. The summit will be broadcast live on their website (as well as Facebook Live, YouTube, and Twitter). You’re encouraged to share your own stories and experiences on social media with the hashtag #EarthOptimism. You can find out more here.

Wednesday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Computer Monitors, Plant-Based Protein Powder, and Blu-ray Sets

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Watch: In 1948, Idaho Officials Sent 76 Beavers Parachuting Into Idaho’s Wilderness

A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
yrjö jyske, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When people started building up the area around Idaho’s Payette Lake after World War II, its original residents began interfering with irrigation and agricultural endeavors. They weren’t exactly staging an organized protest—they were just beavers doing what beavers do.

Nevertheless, officials at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game decided their best bet was to find a new home for the long-toothed locals. The surrounding wilderness provided plenty of options, but transportation was another issue entirely. Traversing the undeveloped, mountainous terrain would require both trucks and pack animals, and experts knew from past relocation efforts that beavers weren’t fond of either.

“Beavers cannot stand the direct heat of the sun unless they are in water,” department employee Elmo W. Heter explained in a 1950 report [PDF]. “Sometimes they refuse to eat. Older individuals often become dangerously belligerent ... Horses and mules become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, malodorous pair of live beavers.”

To keep Payette Lake’s beavers healthy and happy during the journey, their human handlers would need to find another method of travel. As Boise State Public Radio reports, that’s when Heter suggested making use of their leftover WWII parachutes.

Two beavers would sit inside a wooden box attached to a parachute, which could be dropped from an airplane between 500 and 800 feet above their new home in the Chamberlain Basin. The cables that fastened the box to the parachute would keep it shut during the flight, but they’d slacken enough for the beavers to open the box upon landing. After testing the operation with weights, Heter and his colleagues enlisted an older beaver named Geronimo for a few live trials.

“Poor fellow!” Heter wrote. “You may be sure that ‘Geronimo’ had a priority reservation on the first ship into the hinterland, and that three young females went with him.”

Once Geronimo had certified the safety of the mission, the team began migrating the whole beaver population. During the fall of 1948, a total of 76 beavers touched down in their new territory. It wasn’t without tragedy, though; one beaver fell to his death after a cable broke on his box. Overall, however, the venture was deemed much safer (and less expensive) than any trip on foot would have been. And when department officials checked in on the beavers a year later, they had already started improving their ecosystem.

“Beavers had built dams, constructed houses, stored up food, and were well on their way to producing colonies,” Heter wrote. As Idaho Fish and Game’s Steve Liebenthal told Boise State Public Radio, the area is now part of “the largest protected roadless forest” in the continental U.S.

You can watch the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s full 14-minute documentary about the process below.

[h/t Boise State Public Radio]