7 ways to go green and celebrate Earth Day in Birmingham this year

Cahaba River Society Volunteers
Members of the Cahaba River Society and the Little Garden Club removing invasive taro at the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Photo via the Cahaba River Society.

Earth Day is coming up this Thursday, April 22, 2021, and it’s more important than ever to take the time to love and care for our planet in the face of climate change. So, we’ve put together a list of ways to go green and appreciate Alabama’s beautiful environment.

1. Start recycling

Birmingham recycling center
Birmingham Recycling & Recovery center in Avondale. Photo via Caroline Barr for Bham Now

While recycling our coffee cups and water bottles has been second nature to most of us for decades, it can still be difficult to consistently recycle at home—especially if you live in an apartment complex that doesn’t offer a recycling service.

But did you know you can cut out the middle-man and take your recycling directly to Birmingham Recycling and Recovery? Do your part to go green and reduce landfill waste and start putting aside your salad mix clamshells and empty beer cans.

Tip: avoid bulky plastic bins and use your paper grocery bags to collect your recyclables instead—that way you can recycle the entire thing at once!

  • What they accept: paper, cardboard, metal/cans, #1 and #2 plastics
  • Location: 9 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7AM-3:30PM
  • Contact: Facebook | 205.591.8201

2. Shop locally

farmers market produce
Summer produce from local farmers at Birdsong Farmers Market. Photo via Birdsong Farmers Market.

According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), “Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 28 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. GHG emissions.”

One of the best ways we can combat this issue is to shop locally to cut down the amount of shipping it takes for your goods to reach your doorstep. This is especially the case with our food. Buying from local farmers drastically reduces transportation pollution while also supporting the local economy and agriculture.

Check a few of our favorite places to get local produce, meat and sustainable product in Birmingham:

3. Attend the FREE Drive Electric Earth Day Event

drive electric earth day
Drive Electric Earth Day is April 24th, 2021 at The Market at Pepper Place. Photo via Drive Electric Earth Day.

While you’re already perusing the fresh produce at The Market at Pepper Place this Saturday, April 24, 2021, celebrate Earth Day by checking out Drive Electric Earth Day’s showcase of electric vehicles.

Birmingham locals will be bringing out their electric cars from trusty Toyota Priuses to swanky Tesla Model X’s. Not sure what all the hype is about? There will also be experts discussing all the ways electric cars benefit the environment and your wallet.

  • Location: The Market at Pepper Place, 2930 3rd Ave South, Birmingham, AL 35233
  • When: Saturday, April 24, 2021 | 8AM-12PM
  • More info: Website | Contact

4. Sign up for a compost service

handful of compost
Healthy soil makes for a happy planet. Photo provided via Field Culture Compost

While organic waste like food scraps and yard clippings are biodegradable, they take much longer to decompose naturally and produce environmentally harmful levels of methane (aka a greenhouse gas) when trapped in a landfill. Composting, or turning organic waste into soil, is the most effective way to keep our food waste out of landfills, but the process can be a cumbersome mess to do at home.

Enter: Field Culture Compost, Alabama’s first compost scrap pick-up service! Simply fill the provided collection container with accepted waste for weekly or bi-weekly pick-up, and Field Culture Compost handles all the dirty work from there.

5. Volunteer with an environmental group

Cahaba River Society Volunteers
Members of the Cahaba River Society and the Little Garden Club removing invasive taro at the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Photo via the Cahaba River Society.

There are a lot of different ways to go green and lend a helping hand toward our planet’s ever-increasing issues with pollution and climate change, but our creeks, rivers and parks won’t clean themselves!

Birmingham is home to many environmental organizations and nonprofits with volunteer programs, but we especially love those that work to protect our beautiful Alabama waters, such as the Cahaba River Society, the Freshwater Land Trust and the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

COVID-19 has made in-person volunteering a little tricky over the last year, but keep a lookout for scheduled events as we roll into spring and summer.

6. Swap to reusable products

bham tote bag
Use reusable cloth tote bags instead of paper or plastic at the grocery store. Photo via Alabama Goods.

The average person in the U.S. throws away 4.9 pounds of trash per day…PER DAY, y’all. If that figure is as startling to you as it is to us, it’s time to cut down on your daily waste and switch to reusable products.

Think, glass drink tumblers instead of styrofoam, portable stainless steel utensils instead of plastic and cloth totes instead of paper or plastic grocery bags. These may seem like small ways to go green, but over time they make a large impact on the amount of waste we send to landfills.

Here are some of our favorite local businesses to stock up on reusable goods:

  • Piper & Leaf Tea Company
  • Where to shop: Website | P&L X Pizitz Food Hall: 1821 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Contact: Facebook | Instagram

7. Get out and enjoy nature

Oak Mountain State Park
View from Oak Mountain State Park. Photo via Linda Cato Wurstner-Oak Mountain State Park

If nothing else, going on a hike, nature walk or simply sitting out in your backyard and enjoying the natural world around you is a great way to celebrate Earth Day. Even better—make a game out of it!

Head on out to Oak Mountain State Park April 22-April 24 for Earth Day BINGO! Pick up your BINGO sheet at the park office, start exploring, get five in a row and collect a fun prize at the end. What a fun way to go green!

What other ways are you planning to go green and celebrate Earth Day this year? Let us know @BhamNow!

Caroline Barr
Caroline Barr
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