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You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to love Earth Day. In fact, it’s a holiday worth celebrating. Our planet is 4.5 billion years old, but with climate change a looming threat, scientists say that rising temperatures and sea levels could do irreversible damage to our home.

There is so much to love about Earth. The natural beauty, the awe-inspiring weather patterns, the various creatures, great and small — it’s important that we all do our part to protect them.

So, here’s a few ways that I think everyone should be celebrating Earth Day:

1. Planting trees or flowers

Although this might seem a bit cliché, planting trees and flowers is an awesome way to give Mother Nature some love on her special day. Trees are the planet’s AC filters; they absorb odors and pollutants into their leaves and release harmless oxygen. In fact, one acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people in one year. Plus, flowers provide food for many different animals, such as bees, which support entire ecosystems on their buzzing backs.

2. Conserving water

Even though the majority of our planet is covered in H2O, water is still a limited resource. Earth has only a set amount of fresh water, and this has to be shared by all of its inhabitants, from elephants to humans to mice. Instead of spending 15 minutes contemplating your life in the shower this holiday, why not try a three-minute scrub and then do your soul searching on a soft patch of grass outside?

3. Biking to class or work

In case you haven’t heard by now, fossil fuels are bad for the environment. One thing that gives off those harmful fumes? Cars. If you can, try getting around for the day by biking or walking. It’ll even put you in a good mood, seeing as how exercise releases endorphins in the brain. But if you have to take a motorized vehicle, why not give the bus or shuttle a go? You might even make a few environmentally conscious friends.

4. Growing your own garden

Practice sustainable agriculture by growing your own food right in your background. It doesn’t even require a large amount of land. You can use kitchen waste as compost for a garden as small as tomatoes growing in pots on your apartment balcony.

5. Visiting a wildlife sanctuary

Sanctuaries often take in animals that have been threatened by human activity. Give back to our furry friends with a visit to a local wildlife sanctuary. It’s a fun day for you — I mean, how often do you get to see a tiger up close — and a donation that will go toward providing these animals care.

6. Volunteering at an animal shelter

It’s not only wild animals that deserve our love. Show our domesticated four-legged friends how much you care by volunteering for the day at an animal shelter. You’ll even get paid for your work — in slobbery puppy kisses and rumbling kitten purrs.

7. Crafting a fun DIY recycling project

We’ve all grown up hearing about the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. One fun way to do all three is to break out the glue gun and glitter and whip yourself up a fun DIY craft. I recommend a soda bottle birdhouse, which means you can give a bird a home instead of contributing to waste buildup that causes the loss of natural forest habitats.

8. Donating your old stuff

The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash each day. All that garbage piles up in landfills, which continue to grow larger. Instead of tossing out those last season T-shirts or sneakers, donate them to charities. You’ll reduce the amount of trash that has to decompose in landfills, and you’ll help someone in need.

9. Taking a hike or nature walk

What better way is there to honor Mother Nature than to spend a day admiring her beauty? Escape that Netflix binge and take a refreshing hike or nature walk on one of the local trails. Whether you feel like bird watching, geocaching or just breathing in fresh air, the possibilities truly are endless.

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Deanna Ferrante is a digital producer with the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.

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