The seeds of the Earth Day holiday were actually planted in California in 1969, when activist John McConnell first proposed the idea of celebrating the planet for a day at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. The proposal came on the heels of a devastating oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara earlier that year, which in turn motivated activists around the country to organize a celebration of the first official Earth Day in 1970.
Almost 50 years later, Earth Day 2018 activities abound in the state of California. From shore cleanups to interactive exhibitions, here are a few noteworthy events:
Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival – April 21 & 22, Alameda Park
Santa Barbara has become an epicenter for environmental activism and green living. It’s annual zero-waste Earth Day Festival, sponsored for more than 40 years by the Community Environmental Council, features one of the largest green car shows on the West Coast and exhibitions of cutting-edge green tech. There’s even valet parking for bicycles.
San Diego EarthFair – April 22, Balboa Park
Touting itself the largest free annual environmental fair on the planet, EarthFair organizers expect to draw around 60,000 visitors to Balboa Park for a series of zero-waste events. Kids can dress up as their favorite endangered species and march in the Children’s Earth Parade, folks can peruse artwork made from recycled materials at an “eARTh Gallery,” and an eHome exhibit will showcase the latest in sustainable technology for green living. Not sure what to recycle while you’re there? Just ask one of the volunteer “trash talkers,” who can show you what goes in which bin.
Earth Day LA – April 19, Grand Park & April 21, Highland Park
Learn how to go green at two of the largest annual Earth Day events in the Los Angeles area. Head over to Grand Park on Thursday for events sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, including the popular Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s Fish Eyes workshops, where kids can learn about water conservation and the environment through dance. On Saturday, visit Highland Park, where the LA Sanitation department is hosting its annual celebration, with highlights that will include more than 75 exhibits about the environment and sustainable projects in Los Angeles county, free exploration of city vehicles, and an artwork competition.
Earth Day San Francisco – April 21, Civic Center Plaza
This year’s Earth Day event in the City by the Bay celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Save the Redwoods League. The free event will feature guest speakers such as Save the Redwoods CEO Sam Hodder and Rainforest Action Network Executive Director Lindsey Allen. Plus: live music, hands-on eco workshops, an organic celebrity chef showcase, and a sustainable fashion show.
Earth Fest – April 21, Sacramento Zoo
The Sacramento Zoo is throwing a party for the planet to educate visitors about wildlife conservation, and to raise money for conservation projects. Visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits, chat with zookeepers, and kids can even stop by the Stuffed Animal Clinic and have a veterinarian give their teddy bears a checkup.
Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup – April 21, California State Parks
The California State Parks Foundation is holding its 20th anniversary event at parks across the state, inviting volunteers of all ages to help with special projects and park maintenance. Volunteers can get involved in a number of ways, from clearing trash and cleaning graffiti to updating park structures to make them Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Visit the CSPF website for a parks map and to find out where and how to volunteer.
Can’t make it to any of these events? You can find more Earth Day celebration information by region at CalRecycle.