It's Earth Day! Always on April 22, the day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The idea for a national day focused on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of a massive oil spill. Today, Earth Day is global and combines environmental concern, education, a general appreciation for the natural world and a desire to care for and improve the world around us. Earth Day is now the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year. 

Here are seven easy, low key ways to celebrate Earth Day this weekend, or any weekend: 

Get Outside! 
Seriously, it can be that simple. Enjoy an afternoon in nature at one of our area parks. Gather your friends or family together, and take your choice from passive enjoyment to active adventure. Here's a list of parks and trails in the Morgan County area to get you started. Listen to the birds and see how many you can spot, or how many different types of wildflowers you can find.

Go Green
Any way you can "go green" is beneficial to to the Earth, right? On Earth Day this year in Morgan County, you can literally go green with the Color Me Green 4-H Dash! Registration begins at 9 am at Burkhart Creek Park. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle for this and other outdoor events - you'll be able to stay hydrated and you'll be saving lots of plastic bottles from the landfill.

Hug a Tree
Okay, maybe not literally, but did you know that it's been scientifically proven that spending time among trees can make us healthier and happier by reducing stress and blood pressure, increasing energy and reducing depression. Morgan County is home to more than 80% of the total tree canopy of Central Indiana, including Morgan-Monroe State Forest, so come on out and visit with the trees! 

Walk or Bike
Save energy by riding a bicycle or walking on short trips.Park in one spot and explore one of our small towns on foot. You might just be surprised at the things you notice when you're moving a bit slower. You might even discover a fun new shop! Plus, research says walking can improve both concentration and creativity.

Go Off Grid
Whether you're exploring the wilderness in Ravinia State Forest or just taking a break from your electronic devices for the afternoon, don't just ignore them for awhile - actually turn them off to save energy (and reduce the temptation to check in and "cheat").

Eat Local
Commit to shopping at a local Farmers Market (the Morgan County Farmers Market runs May through September) more often, seek out locally owned restaurants rather than eating at fast food places or national chains. Locally-owned eateries are much more likely to source items locally if possible, reducing the environmental impact of shipping and getting you fresher ingredients. 

Help Clean Up
As you explore natural spaces, consider bringing along a small garbage bag to help clean up after other who aren't so conscientious. No, you shouldn't have to, but unfortunately we live in an imperfect world, and picking up a bit of garbage along the trail will improve the experience for the next person, not to mention make things better for the wildlife that lives in the area as well.  

Happy Earth Day!