Earth Day Actions

View of the sky through trees from a kayak

Earth Day Actions

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22.

We often think of habitat restoration as large projects spanning multiple years, with input from scientists with technical expertise. So what can the average person do to help restore Florida’s environment? Plenty! Below are a few ideas for how you and your family can contribute to a cleaner, healthier, restored environment no matter where you live.

Litter Clean-up

We all know littering is bad. But do you know that plastic pollution can last for centuries in the environment? Trash and litter can wind up in our rivers and on our beaches.  

Action steps:

The easiest way to help restore our earth is to attend a clean-up. Many Florida State Parks host events year-round. You can also organize a clean-up around your home or neighborhood. All you need are trash bags, gloves and a few good friends who are committed to keeping Florida’s natural areas healthy!

Want to take the challenge even further? Reduce pollution at its source by looking for alternatives to single use plastic. This might mean switching to reusable drink containers, straws, food storage and grocery bags. When you can’t avoid single use plastics, be sure to recycle.  

Calling all Junior Rangers! Complete the Junior Ranger Leave No Trace or Reduce, Reuse, Recycle activities to learn more ways to reduce plastic pollution. Junior Ranger materials are also available en Español.

A group of scouts work to plant native foliage at The Barnacle Historic State Park.

Native Plants

Invasive plants have no natural predators, grow out of control and crowd out native plants. Many of the invasive plant species are common ornamental plants for homes and gardens.

Action steps:

Replace invasive plants in your home, garden or community with native species. Native plants require less fertilizer, insecticide and water, which means less pollution in our waterways. Native plants also create habitat for pollinators and wildlife. By giving them a place to rest and nest near your home or in neighborhood, you may contribute to saving a migratory bird species or pollinating Florida wildflowers for miles around.

Learn more about Florida-friendly landscaping.

If you don’t have a garden or yard, you can still make a difference! Consider looking into efforts to replant native trees, such as the Plant a Pine initiative. For every dollar donated, the Florida State Parks Foundation is planting one longleaf pine tree to restore natural forests in our state parks.

Waste Maintenance

Waste maintenance is not a fun topic, but it is important for restoring Florida. Whether your home is connected to sewer or septic, a strong waste management system is the best defense against groundwater pollution. Old or malfunctioning systems slowly leak pollution and bacteria into the groundwater, which has been shown to be a major factor in the degradation of Florida’s freshwater and coastal habitats.

Action Steps:

Be kind to your system! No matter where you live, you can help restore Florida by avoiding putting grease and harsh chemicals down the drain and by using less water.

The Florida Department of Health recommends having your septic inspected every 3-5 years. If it’s been a while since you thought about your septic, April 22 is a great time to put it on the schedule.

Think Local

Many decisions about the water, soil and greenspaces around your home are decided at the local level. For example, homeowner associations can decide on policies that reduce the environmental impact of a whole community. Your county commissioners may vote to decide if a local green space is rezoned for development that is not conducive to wildlife habitat.

Action Steps:

You can get involved by learning more about the local issues and speaking with your neighbors and community leaders. All of us working together can make everyday decisions to restore our earth.

Volunteer with Florida State Parks

Our volunteers and staff are on the frontline of habitat restoration. From upland forests, soggy wetlands, refreshing springs or our glorious coastline, restoring and preserving Florida’s unique environment is in our mission. Florida State Park volunteers can help in these exciting projects in several ways, including invasive species removal, water quality monitoring and endangered species surveys.

Action Steps:

Whatever you’re passionate about, find a Florida State Park near you to get involved today. You can fill out the online volunteer application.