50 Actions for 50 Years of Earth Day

April 07, 2020

In light of the disruptions we are all facing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we at Sustainable GW encourage you to stay engaged over the course of this changing situation. Our goal is to continue to provide you with a virtual community and on-going support for sustainability in action, research, and learning through this period. The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is upon us. While we have had to postpone the 2020 celebrations and convenings on campus, we are pleased to provide you with an Earth Month program complete with remote events, actions, and learning opportunities. GW students and partners have compiled 50 actions for 50 years of Earth Day to address care for self, community, and the planet.  GW has also joined forces with other universities across the District to take collective action.

Join the online movement by following #50actionsfor50yearsGW and #whatsustainsusGW, and share your own ideas. The actions we each take make a difference in the future of our society on the planet.  Below are examples of those actions.


Care for Self


  • Create a windowsill garden with fresh herbs like basil, sage, and parsley. DCPR is offering an online gardening class: https://thedcpost.com/free-online-gardening-classes/ You can find more information about herbs you can grow on your windowsill here: https://www.fearlessdining.com/9-fresh-herbs-to-grow-indoors-in-your-kitchen-window/
  • Limiting screen time can be good for your health and your energy bills. Power down your devices and relax with a book.
  • Walking in outdoor space lowers stress, lifts mood, improves circulation, and allows you to connect with nature and your thoughts. Be sure to keep 6ft distance between yourself and others.
  • Daily exercise helps manage weight, reduces risk of heart disease, controls blood sugar levels, and improves mental health and mood. Follow @GWCampusRec and join the #workoutfromhome challenge. Tag them for a chance to be featured! #gwfitforlife
  • Join the DC Public Library's virtual book club from March 18 through April 8 centered on Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel “With the Fire on High.” Learn more at https://t.e2ma.net/click/ps2cpc/93wn1y/l9077j
  • Working from home? Take a five minute stretch break every hour. Many people are now working from home, which means more hours sitting at a desk. Taking 5 minutes every hour to stand up and do some stretches can help relieve tension in your body and prevent carpal tunnel as well as giving your brain a much needed break so you can be as productive as possible!
  • Practice yoga or meditation. Meditation is most commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety. Did you know that it also can increase your attention span, enhance self-awareness, and promote emotional health? We like yoga and meditation apps like Daily Yoga, Down Dog, and Smiling Mind. Comment to let us know what apps and resources you use!
  • Embrace your artistic side and practice a creative hobby like drawing, writing, or photography. Creative hobbies reduce stress, boost health and happiness, improve productivity and problem solving, and provide an outlet for emotions that may be difficult to verbalize. Next time you start to feel overwhelmed try doodling on scrap paper, writing a poem or short story, or taking photographs. The beauty of the natural world in springtime can provide great artistic inspiration!
  • Eat a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and grains can greatly improve mood, increase energy, and improve overall physical health. "Eating the rainbow" or natural foods are varying colors is an easy way to increase vitamin intake and create exciting new dishes. Follow @gwdiningsust for tips.
  • Take a virtual tour of a museum or zoo. Lots of museums and zoos are providing virtual visitation, so you can learn and enjoy museums online. Check out the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History at https://naturalhistory2.si.edu/vt3/NMNH/
  • Join GW Campus Recreation's Trick Shot Challenge! Check out GW Campus Recreation's intramural trick shot challenge! Video submissions accepted until April 29th. Learn more at https://campusrecreation.gwu.edu/trickshotchallenge
  • Journaling can be a great way to organize your thoughts and practice mindfulness! Try writing about what's happening around you and how you feel. Especially during the pandemic, journaling can help one deal with difficult times. There's no wrong way to journal!


Care for Community


  • Join the Nashman Center's virtual Dialogues and Development series, to learn about civic engagement, advocacy, leadership, diversity, equity and more. WebEx Workshops will be held March 30th, April 2nd, 6th, 9th, 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th, 30th. Learn more and register at https://gwserves.givepulse.com/event/173574-Dialogues-and-Development?referring_group_id=128546
  • Sustainable GW is hosting an event to Solve Climate by 2030, a nationwide initiative to discuss state-level solutions to climate change. We’ll be using this opportunity to discuss Food Resilience in DC — the ability of our local food system to withstand the shocks and stressors of climate change. We hope to spark a conversation with the GW community about what DC needs to do to become food-ready in response to climate change. Register here: https://forms.gle/6hLqmH7ssvMCvwh58
  • Find support from and give support to fellow GW students. The Student Association has created a Mutual Aid Spreadsheet for GW students and others to share their resources with others who may be in search of housing, healthcare, transportation, and other kinds of support. Find it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1iWHHAgZvH0MpdLRpeixOWvzN7P5teREAJuLdY1pJ7y8/edit?usp=sharing
  • Support local farmers and enjoy fresh, in-season produce. FRESHFARM Farmer's Markets are working hard to keep customers safe with social distancing and sanitizing measures, while still providing access to fresh, healthy food.
  • Serve the District of Columbia local community. The District of Columbia is looking for neighbors to make donations or volunteer. Learn more and sign up at http://bit.ly/SDCcares
  • Volunteer to tutor kids online. Kids need support now more than ever. With online teaching gearing up, kids need additional support to ensure they're still successful and don't fall behind. Educational programs are working hard to ensure students get the support they need and are seeking for college students to help out as they launch their remote tutoring sessions. One great organization to check out is the Latino Student Fund.
  • Apply for funding from Peace First for a Covid-19 relief project. Peace First is launching a rapid response grant process to help young people around the world lead projects that address community impacts of COVID-19, from providing meals to elderly neighbors to launching digital mental health campaigns to support youth feeling isolated. Rapid response grants are open to young people between the ages of 13-25, anywhere in the world, starting April 6th. Learn more and apply here: https://forms.gle/JjxcPdUHMTpCcttR7
  • Members of the SEAS community—faculty members, staff, and students—are working on the following solutions to help combat COVID-19 or respond to COVID-19-related issues. Learn more about these projects at https://www.seas.gwu.edu/seas-response-covid-19-projects-and-activities, and let us know if you have additional projects you're involved in.
  •  Interested in keeping up your sustainability living habits while at home? Join the Campaign GW Virtual General Body Meeting tonight (April 1st) at 7pm EST! Join other Eco-reps to catch up and get updates about Campaign GW. Sign up on this link for the Zoom information: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfDbVq4yF-pVaoTbEyWZp1APfZiEXKvYLt1DYyvmGALx0lLgw/viewform 
  • Become a citizen scientist using the iNaturalist app. Take your phone with you into your backyard or on a walk and become a citizen scientist! Use the iNaturalist app to log the photos and observations you make about the natural world. Post about the plants, animals, and insects you see and know as well as things you are curious about. You can also participate in iNaturalist collection events such as Bumble Bee Watch, Frog Watch, or Budburst.
  • Have an environmental or sustainability cause you care about? Saw something in the news that you want to voice your opinion on? Then write your local or state elected officials and let them know! You can find some great tips on how to write an effective letter here: https://www.aclu.org/writing-your-elected-representatives
  • Want to get involved and make a difference on campus? Consider applying for Senate Staff openings. Applications are due April 25th. sa.gwu.edu/get-involved


Care for Planet


  • Go meatless to reduce your carbon footprint. Beef production is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other animal product, requires 2500 gallons of water per pound, and is the leading driving of tropical deforestation, especially in the Amazon Rainforest. Try reducing your beef intake to give our planet and vital rainforests a little love.
  • Skip the dryer and use a clothesline.Next time you do laundry, try air drying your clothes! The material will last longer, it will smell and feel fresher, and you will reduce your energy footprint.
  • Write a post for the G-Dub Green Hub blog. Looking for a space to have your writing posted? Have an environmental topic you really want to write or read about? Our office blog, G Dub Green Hub, is the perfect place for it! Email us at [email protected] if you have any ideas for a post or want to write, and be sure to check out our blog at https://blogs.gwu.edu/greenhub/.
  • Try your hand at making a simple, non-toxic cleaning spray for your home or office. Try making your own multi-purpose cleaning spray! We love this recipe because it uses castile soap, a biodegradable soap that removes oil and grease, and essential oils, which adds natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal power. Try this recipe here: https://www.thespruce.com/diy-castile-soap-multi-surface-spray-4138122
  • Join Extinction Rebellion's planting campaign. This Earth Day, April 22, Extinction Rebellion DC will be launching a Planting Campaign! This will consist of teams of people planting trees and other plants in underused parts of DC as well as encouraging people to start their own seedlings and cuttings in their homes and gardens. Visit https://www.xrdc.org/planting to learn more!
  • Want more plants? Have an overgrown plant? Try propagation! Propagating can be done by cutting/trimming the plant, placing cuttings in water until they root, then plant the rooted cuttings in new potting soil. What plants have you propagated before?
  • Earth Optimism Summit 2020 is hosting a FREE digital summit from April 22-26! This summit showcases positive actions, big and small, and shares areas of opportunity for the Earth. #EarthOptimism Visit their website to learn more: https://earthoptimism.si.edu/2020-summit/
  • Why not reuse materials to make something new out of them, like a craft? To reduce waste, you can create projects like natural wreaths with flowers and leaves from your yard, hanging planters out of large plastic bottles, or bracelets from can pop tops! Check out this link for more ideas: https://www.weareteachers.com/earth-day-crafts-classroom-activities/
  • Want to learn more about divestment at GW? Interested in sustainable investment? Join us for a webinar on Monday, April 27 at 2pm! Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/divestment-and-sustainable-investment-at-gw-tickets-102707553056