Here are some Earth Day ideas for while sheltering in place and beyond.


With the extra time many people have, now is a good time to plant a vegetable garden. It’s a great activity to do with kids; research shows children who grow vegetables are more likely to eat the fruits of their labor.

Larry Pelletier of Auburn picks up garbage and dog waste from the sidewalk on Second Street. Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal file photo

Pick up trash in the neighborhood.

Be like Auburn’s Larry Pelletier, a caring guy who picks up trash in his neighborhood. While walking the dog, or taking a walk to get out of the house, bring along gloves and a trash bag and pick up rubbish to improve your neighborhood’s environment.

Eat less meat.


It’s a perfect time to explore meatless, vegetable- and grain-based meals, especially with some meat processing plants down as workers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Chicago face COVID-19. The popular trend in “meatless Mondays” and new plant-based burgers have gained growing acceptance. Experts say eating less meat and eating more plant-based food is better for health, but it’s also good for the planet because of the amount of energy and resources needed to raise, feed and process livestock, as well as their waste. Beef is the hardest on the environment, after poultry and pork, according to a scorecard by the World Resources Institute.

Calculate your carbon footprint.

Lisa Pohlman of the Natural Resources Council of Maine has a list of 50 ways to celebrate Earth Day. Topping her list is fight climate change. Pohlman offers an online link to calculate your carbon footprint and possible ways to reduce it.

Consider heating and cooling with heat pumps.

Heat pumps range in price from $3,500 to $5,000, but save more than that in the long term on heating and cooling. Heat pumps emit 60% fewer pollutants than a typical oil boiler, Michael Stoddard of Efficiency Maine said. One way to pay for them is through an energy loan; in some cases the savings is enough to cover the loan payments.

One of Gov. Janet Mills’ climate change action plans is helping Mainers buy heat pumps by offering bigger state rebates: $1,000 for the first highly-efficient heat pump, $500 for the second. Since July 1, Mainers have installed more than 7,800 heat pumps in their homes, Stoddard said.


For safety reasons with the COVID-19 outbreak, some companies are not installing heat pumps in homes now. But, now is a good time to explore the cost and benefits of what a heat pump could do for you. For more information, go to

Greg D’Augustine of Greene displays single-use, take-out containers and plastic forks and spoons he reuses. Drying on the left are plastic bags that he washes and reuses. Andree Kenh/Sun Journal file photo

Reduce single-use plastic.

Stop using single-use plastic water bottles. Refill those bottles or invest in a reusable water bottle. Also, join a growing trend of BYOF (bring your own fork to stop wasting single-use utensils).

Just as Greg D’Augustine of Greene does, rinse and reuse some plastic bags and food containers. And it turns out empty bags from cereal boxes were fine for freezing leftovers like Easter ham.

A plastic lettuce container can be reused to store a new head of lettuce. The containers help lettuce stay fresher longer.

Opt for bar soap over liquid soap. With everyone washing their hands more, liquid soap leaves a bigger pile of empty plastic bottles. Or, buy liquid soap in large containers and refill smaller pump bottles.

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