Climate Action

Earth Day on the fly: How Virginia salvaged Earth Day in the pandemic

Organizations from all over Virginia prepared for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in a big way, as they geared up for marches, festivals, educational events, art projects, movie screenings and more. They expected to physically come together to take climate action while celebrating our resilient Earth.

Coronavirus altered those plans. Here’s how Virginian communities pushed forward for Earth Day 2020.

Shenandoah Valley

In Harrisonburg, Earth Day Every Day launched a “Saving the Earth, Step by Step” video series, interviewing local experts and holding virtual workshops on topics like zero-waste living and gardening. Working with an artist and students, they unveiled a 3D plastic trash mosaic called the “Plastic Waste Blues.” The organization also hosted a virtual poster parade.

In Staunton, Shenandoah Green engaged a digital audience with a week of Earth-focused themes. Highlights included recycled art, environmental poetry and online calculators to understand carbon footprints. Stay tuned for their Earth Day Festival in Earthtober and how you can participate.

— Jenna Piersol


This Earth Day, traveled all over Virginia with Vision Forward Media to raise awareness for the 50th anniversary by filming environmental leaders and events. Managing Love also created Earth Day Tips, Earth Day Photos, Earth Day Recipes, Earth Day Clothing and Love Mother Earth to help people celebrate their favorite Earth Day related hobbies and activities.  

The Community Climate Collaborative launched an innovative five-week “Virtual Climate Camp” for parents and kids leading up to Earth Day. They created 18 activities and eight short how-to videos on everything from making reusable bags from old t-shirts to building s’more solar ovens from pizza boxes.

Since people were staying home, they produced a DIY home energy checklist and Kill a Watt energy monitors for more than 400 homeowners and renters to discover energy savings. They are also partnering with the Virginia Discovery Museum and City of Promise to deploy over 20 climate action at-home learning kits to preschool children who are unable to meet in person in October. 

As things shut down due to COVID-19, the University of Virginia Sustainability outreach team devised “Earth Day Every Day,” which encouraged neighbors to share their thoughts, feelings and actions throughout April. Hundreds joined daily social media themes like #TeachYourselfTuesday and #ServiceSaturday. They distributed almost 200 yard signs so people could show support offline, too.

— Gwendolyn Cassady, Teri Kent, Dana Schroeder

Hampton Roads

Environmental education and conservation are paramount to the campus community. That’s why the Marlins Go Green student organization responded to the chaos of coronavirus with a virtual Earth Day celebration that highlighted the environmental movement’s connections to broader global changes. 

They designed a website linking to an array of online Earth Day celebrations and live cams from Google Maps and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to let visitors enjoy nature across the world. They also compiled photos and articles from previous Earth Days and university environmental campaigns as well as tips to stay green at home. Finally, they promoted a sustainability theme each day of Earth Week via social media.

On Earth Day’s half birthday, October 24, they intend to collaborate with local colleges and universities to host a virtual celebration to honor Earth Day and bring awareness to the environment in this chaotic time.

— Ashley Roehrman, Micaela Morris

To preserve as many elements as possible of original Earth Day plans, the City of Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation offered exciting family oriented activities that sparked wonder for the natural world and a sense of stewardship for natural resources.

They revamped their website to showcase resources inspiring users to explore green spaces and virtual tours of Stumpy Lake Natural Area and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum. What’s more, the site demonstrated eco friendly crafting and socially distant outdoor activities. A Facebook photo contest received scores of nature-related entries and webinars explored Earth Day’s history, Mount Trashmore Park’s evolution as a symbol of sustainable growth, individuals’ impacts on climate change and environmentally beneficial behaviors.

With the department’s determination and creativity and partner organizations’ support, Earth Day 2020 was a huge success! They connected the community to appreciate our amazing planet and illustrate the many everyday changes residents can take to mitigate climate change’s negative effects and better the environment for present and future generations.

— Michael T. Moore, Nicole Vargas

Lynnhaven River Now worked with EDN to identify strategies to digitize Earth Day. LRNow led a 10-day challenge that prompted upwards of 10,020 individuals to incorporate sustainable actions into their routines. Additionally, LRNow staff, officials and other stakeholders made videos about current and future environmental issues and the importance of protecting and restoring our beautiful natural resources.

— Emily Hatfield

Join Earth Day Virginia

We’re harnessing Earth Day 2020’s momentum to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and other environmental and public health threats. We’re shaping a more inclusive movement to conserve the environment and realize a green economy. Become a partner or volunteer with Earth Day Virginia!