You don't have to be a hippie to enjoy Earth Day, the world-wide nonpartisan day of activism on behalf of our planet. More than one-billion people annually participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.
To celebrate the 41st anniversary on April 22, merchants and organizations are offering a variety of freebies, events, contests and more. Here's a roundup of ways to celebrate and appreciate Mother Earth.
Amazon.com wants you to "Read, Reuse, Recycle" with up to 34-percent off on Earth Day reads for children and adults. While you're there, check out the Frustration-Free Packaging program.
2. The Disney Store
Bring in five plastic shopping bags for recycling and The Disney Store will exchange them for a reusable shopping bag. There's a limit of one bag per customer while supplies last. (I haven't been able to confirm this offer yet, so check with your local Disney Store.
You'll receive up to 60-percent off on green and natural products at Drugstore.com through April 22.
4. Earth Day Curriculums
Teacher Planet and the Earth Day Network have created extensive free Earth Day resources for teachers, including lessons, worksheets, online activities and more.
5. EVOS (Florida, Georgia and North Carolina only)
The fast health-food chain is offering free organic milkshakes all day long on Earth Day.
6. Green Jungle
Receive a free Earth Day T-shirt from Green Jungle with every $25 individual partner donation. Your money helps fund the non-profit's Earth Day activities in Costa Rica along with other activities throughout the world.
7. Green Mountain (Texas Only)
Visit the Green Mountain booth at these local Earth Day events and receive a free tree to plant at home or in your community. Green Mountain hopes to give away a total of 1,500 trees, which should help reduce the biggest state's giant carbon footprint.
8. Home Depot
Home Depot has scheduled several workshops, available at most stores during Earth Day week, including:
Download a vast assortment of games, crafts, food, coloring pages, projects, quizzes, galleries and more from Disney Online.
Discounts galore at your friendly big-box store. Kmart is discounting everything from plants to paper through April 22.
One-million trees! That's how much greenery Lowe's will hand out this year on April 23. Click here to find a store near you.
12. National Earth Day Organization
Download a free Earth Day poster and report on "How To Get Paid For Recycling" from the original Earth Day Organization.
13. National Parks
Partly to help reduce income-tax-day stress and partly to celebrate Earth Day, entrance to all 394 national parks is free the week of April 16-24. This year's focus for National Parks Week is "Healthy Parks, Healthy People."
The skin care company will recycle your empty cosmetic packaging; regardless of the brand. If the container can't be recycled, Origins will have it "responsibly converted to energy." As a thank you, you'll receive free Origins samples.
15. Origins Concert (New York only)
Visit these Origins locations in New Jersey and New York and receive two free tickets to an Earth Day concert featuring Train at Webster Hall in New York when you take their Green Pledge.
16. Pro Energy Consultants
Have a home energy audit performed by Pro Energy Consultants and they'll conduct a second energy audit (of equal or lesser value) free for a neighbor, relative or friend of your choice. This offer is only valid in participating markets. All Pro Energy franchises are independently owned and operated.
17. Sci-Tech Discovery Center (Dallas/Fort Worth)
Check out the Sci-Tech Discovery Center's free eco-expo event on April 23, including hands-on green activities and a community-wide creation of a recycled sculpture. Admission is usually $6.50, so a family of four will save $26.
Participating stores in the ubiquitous chain will give away free Starbucks coffee or tea on April 22 when you bring in our own travel cup.
On April 17, 2011, Target will give away free reusable bags with each purchase to its first one-million customers. Limit one per guest. Most stores ran out within a few hours last year, so get yours while supplies last.
Rooms in green hotels are on sale for up to 40-percent off through the all-thing-travel-related site. You can also enter to win two round-trip tickets from Virgin America and a two-night stay at an eco-friendly hotel.
To help sow the seeds of home farming, Triscuit is giving away basil and dill seeds inside specially marked boxes. Visit the Triscuit website for information on starting your own home farm.
22. Yoga Journal
Get your ohm on with a free digital download of the Yoga Journal's May issue. New Yorkers can also join Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times for a two-day festival of art, music, and the environment. Stop by their booth for free samples.
PROGRAMS & CONTESTS
23. Sierra Club
Make the Sierra Club pledge to go green on Earth Day and you'll be entered to win a trip for two to Puerto Rico's Vieques Island.
The winner of this package will receive two round-trip tickets to Vieques, with a five-night stay at the beautiful Inn on the Blue Horizon, where your ocean-view room will offer an unparalleled vista of the Caribbean. Don't worry about vacation attire -- you'll have a $1,000 gift certificate from BCBGMAXAZRIA usable at any of their U.S. locations.
24. 100 Mile Challenge
PlanetGreen challenges you to eat only foods grown, produced and sold within 100 miles of your home on Earth Day. Eating locally reduces carbon emissions and helps support local economies. Begin by locating a farmers market near you. You also can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system, in which local farmers distribute fresh produce. The USDA has a web page to help you find your nearest CSA.
25. The Canopy Project
As part of Earth Day Network’s 2011 “Billion Acts of Green,” The Canopy Project will plant millions of trees in sponsor-supported, tree-planting projects in partnership with non"profit organizations throughout the world. For every $1 you donate, The Canopy Project will plant a tree were it's most needed. In the United States, the effort is focused on urban areas through organizations like MillionTreesNYC, which plants trees throughout New York City’s five boroughs, focusing on low- to middle-income communities. The Canopy Project also works with Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco and TreePeople in Los Angeles.
26. Disneynature: African Cats
For every ticket sold during the opening week (April 22 to 28) of the movie "African Cats," Disneynature will contribute 20 cents per ticket to the African Wildlife Federation, with a minimum pledge of $100,000. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, AWF is a credible and well respected conservation leader in Africa.
27. Dive for Earth Day
Every April 22, thousands of volunteers in more than 100 countries take action to help protect underwater environments and cultivate community awareness during Dive for Earth Day. Through Project AWARE thousands of dive volunteers have focused on such activities as underwater cleanups, mooring buoy installation projects and reef surveys.
28. Earth Day Video Rap
The very serious contemplation of our environment on Earth Day could leave anyone with the need to be re-energized with a sense of humor. Ben & Eric created the Earth Day Rap that gets better with each viewing.
29. eBay Green Shopping List Contest
What five items would you put on your green shopping list? This Earth Day, create a green shopping list made up of all the millions of used, refurbished, vintage and eco-friendly products found on eBay. Share them with the eBay Green Team and you could win one of two $5,000 shopping sprees.
30. Elmer's Glue
Beginning on Earth Day, teachers across the country will start recycling the millions of glue bottles and glue sticks their classrooms have collected since the beginning of the school year. This recycling effort is part of the Elmer’s Glue Crew Recycling Program, created three years ago to help teachers educate children about recycling and environmental stewardship while keeping millions of glue bottles and glue sticks out of our landfills.
31. Environmental Booty
Environmental Booty is sponsoring the Great Green Earth Day Giveaway, providing you with the chance to win a prize package worth over $1,350 containing some of the hottest environmental treasure around, including all-natural sandals, a skin-care kit, a free energy audit, aromatherapy household cleaners and more.
32. EPA Earth Day on the National Mall
Head out the weekend before Earth Day (April 16 and 17) to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. EPA’s Earth Day tent with 40 exhibits on clean air, water, green technology, composting, green jobs, rain gardens, an environmental crime scene and other programs.
Kids and family members can join the “Bash the Trash” crowd and play music on recycled trash, create earth-friendly designs on postcards in the “Eco-Art” tent, listen to “Earth Tales” in the reading area, or enjoy environmentally informative videos in the theater tent. The event also features the National Sustainable Design Expo, in which the EPA, green businesses, non-profits and college students from across the country will showcase their efforts to protect the planet.
33. FreeEvents Schedule
The Earth Day Network has created an interactive website of Earth Day events. You can submit information about an event, create your own, or search local events.
34. Handmade for Earth Day Auction
The Handmade for Earth Day Auction features items donated by members of Team Eco Etsy, sellers of handmade goods on the Etsy website. Scroll to the bottom of their welcome page for info on themes like “Jump Into Spring,” “Mother's Day” and “Girls' Night Out.” This year, the proceeds will be donated to Habitat for Humanity in Japan.
35. Kellogg’s Earth Day 2011 Sweepstakes
The grand prize in Kellogg's Sweepstakes is a 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Purchase any two Kellogg's cereals and receive reusable tote bags with a picture of Toucan Sam or Tony the Tiger.
36. The Nature Conservancy Picnic for the Planet
The Picnic for the Planet focuses on the actions you can take to make your dinner plate more planet-friendly. Learn how to make eating choices healthier, sustainable and green by planning an Earth Day 2011 picnic with friends. To plot your picnic, use meetup.com/nature conservancy and recipes from famous chefs, like Alice Waters, Eric Ripert and Mario Batali.
37. Recyclebank’s Green Your Home Challenge
Learn how to green your home and life during the month of April, and win planet-friendly prizes. Recyclebank's grand prize is an $18,000 green home makeover, including a suite of Energy Star LG appliances and a designer consultation with green-living expert Danny Seo.
Visit the big-box store's website to enter their Refresh Your Nest sweepstakes through April 30. Win the grand prize and you'll receive a home makeover worth $50,000. Other prizes include a trip to Napa Valley, a Nikon camera, products from both Burt's Bees and Tom's of Maine, and more.
40. Verizon Wireless HopeLine
The long-running Verizon Wireless HopeLine program collects no-longer-used wireless phones, batteries and accessories in any condition from any wireless service provider. The phones are refurbished or recycled in an environmentally sound way, charged with 3,000 minutes of wireless service, and given to domestic violence organizations or local government and law-enforcement agencies for use with domestic-violence victims.