By Jackie Furlong
EarthShare of Georgia

What is the perfect day? Is it laying outside on a blanket in the sun, taking a walk through your local park listening to the birds, or enjoying the company of friends on a cool summer’s evening on an outdoor patio? Either way, many a perfect day starts outside.

Earth Day is a celebration that is recognized internationally on April 22 each year, but its roots began in the United States in 1970 with founder Gaylord Nelson. His goal was to infuse energy from the increased public consciousness about social issues into an environmental movement to raise awareness and protect our air, land and water.

At a time when local groups throughout the nation were fighting against countless assaults on the environment, from oil spills to a loss of wilderness, The Earth Day movement succeeded in the creation of United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts, garnering support from all sides of the political spectrum.

But now, 43 years later, while they are not household names, Earth Day and environmental sustainability are certainly words we hear about more often and there have been significant environmental improvements in Georgia, and many in Atlanta. From community gardens in Candler and Grant Park, open air markets with locally sourced foods in East Atlanta and Buckhead, conscientious home builders and energy-efficient renovation projects, to a walkable/bikeable/anything you can do-able path around the city, the Beltline, Atlanta is becoming a leader in environmental sustainability.

So what is your perfect day? Either way, you can’t have it without a healthy environment. From blue collar to white collar and those new to the environmental movement, as Earth Day is celebrated on Monday, April 22, we encourage you to conduct your own environmental conservation acts from turning off the water while you brush your teeth to recycling your daily yogurt containers. These little acts help ensure that we will have clean air, land and water for generations to come.

This year, EarthShare of Georgia is celebrating 20 years of caring for the environment. Adults will enjoy attending the 11th annual Earth Day Leadership Breakfast on Friday, April 19, from 8 to10 a.m. at the Georgia Aquarium and the 17th annual Earth Day Party on Thursday, April 25 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the King Plow Arts Center while supporting EarthShare of Georgia.  More information on these two events can be found at

EarthShare will celebrate Earth Day on April 22 from 6 to10 p.m. at earth-friendly YEAH! BURGER Virginia Highland for a Make It Matter Monday fundraiser benefiting the organization. YEAH! BURGER ( will donate 10 percent of all sales to EarthShare to help ensure Georgians will have clean air, land and water for generations to come.

Many people don’t know that Atlanta has a plethora of outdoor treasures for the environmental enthusiast to those who just want to get outside. Once you have explored the outdoors in Atlanta and beyond, celebrate Earth Day all year long by donating your time and talents to your local environmental groups! EarthShare of Georgia provides an easy way to donate through your employee giving program to 70 environmental member groups, including many of these incredible groups mentioned in this article. Find out more at

Earth Month 2013 Events

Hoochie: The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Chapter hosts this event Friday, April 19, 7 p.m. to midnight at the Tophat Soccer Fields, Atlanta. Featuring live music from the Bradley Cole Smith Band, unique entertainment, and sustainable gourmet cuisine with Executive Chef Adam Evans from The Optimist shucking oysters. Tickets $125. Information:

Earth Day Kids Fest: This fun event is Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and perfect for the whole family. Admission is $10 for adults; $7 for seniors and students; $6 for children (under 2 get in free). You can also ride your bike from home and get in for free. Through guest appearances with Captain Planet, performances by Laughing Pizza and engaging activities kids are energized with information on how to keep their planet healthy. Family’s will also enjoy animal presentations with CNC naturalist and be able to paddle a canoe on Beaver Pond. Hosted by The Captain Planet Foundation and the Chattahoochee Nature Center. For more information:

Sweep the Hooch: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in partnership with Trout Unlimited and the National Parks Service will conduct its 3rd annual Sweep the Hooch on Saturday, April 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to include 21 sites and more than 450 volunteers. Last year 3.81 tons of trash was collected with 1.2 tons being recycled along 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area Register early as a walker, wader or paddler before site capacities are met. For more information please visit

Georgia Tech’s Earth Day Celebration: The annual event is set for Friday, April 19, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tech Walk and will focus attention on the environment and increase people’s awareness of the world around them. The event is free and open to the public, and features 70 exhibitors, eco-friendly giveaways, recycling opportunities, a clothing swap, an office supply exchange, live music and organic popcorn. For more information:

Wild & Woolly Festival: Georgia Forest Watch hosts this festival Friday, April 19, 4 to 8 p.m. along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Join storyteller Jim Pfitzer as he brings Aldo Leopold to life in his one-man play, “Aldo Leopold – A Standard of Change.” There will also be educational tables, music, food, a silent auction and games. For more information:

Decatur Earth Day Festival: The event will be Sunday, April 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Wylde Centerat the corner of Oakview and South McDonough. The festival is pirate themed this year and is a great chance for members of the community to come together and pARRRticipate. Their pirates have traveled the world and are here to tell us that we must protect our planet and plunder no more. For details visit



General Volunteer Opportunities

EarthShare of Georgia: Volunteers are need for our Earth Day events, must be 21 to participate. Contact person: Stephanie Williams, (404) 873-3173 or

Chattahoochee Nature Center, Roswell: To be added to the special event email list so that you can become one of CNC’s event volunteers please email your name, telephone number, and preferred email address to with Special Event Volunteer Email Request in the subject line.

Georgia Wildlife Federation-Mill Creek Nature Center: Adopt-A-Stream Monitoring, dates and hours are flexible. Adopt-A-Stream is a unique effort to involve the public and local communities in water quality protection. Volunteers, such as the Georgia Wildlife Federation, adopt a section of stream, river or lake for one year. Adopt-A-Stream groups conduct visual surveys and clean-ups, improve stream habitat and/or monitor water quality. To volunteer, please contact Robert Phillips at (770) 787-7887 or

Park Pride: To get more involved in your community park, or to become a volunteer, willing to work for the greater good of Atlanta’s parks and green spaces, contact John Ahern (404) 546-7982 or

Trees Atlanta: All events are Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. until noon. No cost to volunteer. Please bring gloves and a bottle of water. Trees Atlanta provides all tools and instruction. Contact person: Susan Pierce, (404) 522-4097 or Volunteers can also sign up at

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper: Interested in helping and preserving the Chattahoochee River and its watershed through programs in education, community outreach, policy reform and legal actions.? From working all day at a festival, to assisting with river clean-ups, to helping out for a few hours in the office, there’s something available for everyone. Contact Bonnie Jackson at or (404) 352-9828. You can also fill out the volunteer form at

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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