This year marks the 48th annual celebration of Earth Day, and what better time is there to think more proactively about ways to take care of the planet? If you live in New York City, you’re already probably doing your part to help the earth—taking public transportation and recycling are part of many New Yorkers’ daily routines, as are things like shopping at local Greenmarkets and spending time in parks.
But Earth Day is a good time to up your eco-friendliness—and in that spirit, we’ve compiled a few easy (and fun!) ways that you can celebrate this year.
In 2016, the Department of Transportation closed six blocks of Broadway on Earth Day, hoping to bring awareness to the fact that a car-free New York City isn’t as scary as some automobile addicts would think. And this year, the city is building on the success of that program: a huge swath of Broadway will be closed to vehicles from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—basically the entire stretch between Union Square and Times Square—as will other thoroughfares throughout the five boroughs.
“We’re showing New Yorkers the potential of a car-free Broadway and what open streets can look and feel like,” said City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez in a statement announcing the 2017 initiative. “Reducing car usage in our city can transform so much.”
In addition to those 30 blocks of Broadway, car-free streets programs will be happening in upper Manhattan, on St. Nicholas Avenue from 181st Street to 190th Street; and there will be Weekend Walks in Morrisania, Brooklyn Heights, Astoria, and Woodside. More details about what, exactly, will be happening can be found on the DOT’s website.
Head to your local park
While you shouldn’t limit yourself to helping out in New York’s parks on the easiest day to do so, there are a ton of activities happening throughout the city for Earth Day—so head to your nearest green space and see how you can help out. The NYC Parks Department has planned myriad activities in every borough: you can help clean and beautify small parks; go hiking through Van Cortlandt Park; join a celebration of spring in the East Village; or learn how to make the South Bronx greener. The sky’s the limit.
Prospect Park also has a full day of programming planned, centered around the Audubon Center. Much of it is kid-oriented, but there are some things for adults to partake in, too—including 5K and 10K races through the park, and a introduction to bird-watching class.
Do something eco-friendly in your neighborhood
There are plenty of small ways that you can green your immediate surroundings: Find a place where you can drop off compost scraps; if you’ve been in the throes of spring cleaning, take your old clothes to a textile recycling center; pick up a piece of trash from your block; or request a street tree. And remember—sometimes small changes can have the biggest impact.
Join the March for Science
“We love science and we believe the best way to preserve publicly funded science is to engage our community,” say the organizers of the March for Science, which will traverse the Upper West Side on Earth Day. A rally in Central Park will kick things off, with the march—from West 71st Street to 52nd Street and Broadway—to follow.
Learn how to incorporate sustainability into your everyday life
Earth Day only happens once a year, but you can practice sustainability all year long. The Earth Day Initiative will host a pop-up in Chelsea on Saturday, with vendors and workshops that will give you starting points on how to be greener. The goal, according to the organizers, is to “connect New Yorkers to the wide range of opportunities around sustainability and social responsibility that exist in the city.”