WILTON — With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, there are numerous opportunities to embrace the spirit of the day. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is pre-empting any community or group events, both Wilton Go Green and Trout Unlimited have some suggestions for marking this environmental milestone at home.

In fact, Trout Unlimited is encouraging people to celebrate #EarthDayAtHome with activities they can do to protect water quality and promote healthy rivers and streams. From a kids’ art contest to social media pledges, to hands-on activities like installing a rain barrel or building a native plant rain garden, these #EarthDayAtHome opportunities are designed to be easy, family-friendly and impactful.

“Just because we can’t get together to celebrate Earth Day doesn’t mean we can’t take individual action to protect the planet and our local rivers and streams,” said Jeff Yates, national director of volunteer operations for Trout Unlimited.

“Trout Unlimited’s events and activities are designed to help all of us connect as a community — even digitally — to demonstrate our shared interest in making this world a better, healthier place.”

At www.tu.org/earthday visitors can learn about the favorable environmental effects of a simple rain barrel, how to plant a rain garden, and view the details of an art contest that encourages children to depict what Earth Day means to them and then share on Facebook or Instagram. When posting, tag @MianusTU, the chapter that covers Wilton.

People may pledge to protect the planet with a photo of themselves fishing on a river, planting a tree, or hiking a trail, with a promise to take “conservation action” after the pandemic is over.

“Whether you pledge to pick up 10 pounds of trash from an area river, plant a tree with your kids this fall, or volunteer for your local TU chapter, your pledge is a powerful statement of our shared hope for the future,” the website says.

Climate action

With the theme for Earth Day 2020 being “climate action,” Wilton Go Green is sponsoring several events.

The premiere activity is the organization’s inaugural Earth Month Scavenger Hunt during which families or individuals may participate during the entire month of April and be eligible to win a prize.

The first-prize winner may choose between a two-month family membership to the Wilton YMCA or a yearlong membership to Ambler Farm.

Second prize is a $45 gift certificate to Cooks Nook and Reusable Straws. Three runners up will win a solar flashlight.

Some of the things participants may do on the scavenger hunt include upcycling an item that normally would go in the trash, unplugging an “energy vampire,” sharing a picture of reusable items at home, identifying an invasive non-native plant at home, and telling one of two locations in Wilton that have electric vehicle charging stations.

Wilton Go Green and Trinity Solar will host a webinar on the company’s no-cost solutions program. There will be a Q&A period after the presentation on Thursday, April 16, from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Sign up by clicking here.

Gail K. Reynolds, state coordinator of the UConn Master Composter Program, will host a webinar on home composting on Tuesday, April 21, from 7 to 8 p.m. Register here.

Other ways Wilton Go Green is suggesting people may observe Earth Day and beyond are to:

Participate in the Explore Wilton Walking Trails initiative.

Be a citizen scientist and participate in Earth Challenge 2020.

Consider “11 Actions for the Planet During a Pandemic.”

Six films on plastic pollution may be viewed at beyondplastics.org. At the same website is a plastic pollution poster contest for students. The deadline is April 22.

History

Earth Day began in 1970 as a means to respond to pollution that had grown so severe there were destructive oil spills, smog and rivers so dirty they caught fire. Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson is credited as being the founder of Earth Day after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara prompted him to propose a “national teach-in on the environment.”

By the end of the year, congress had passed the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. The Environmental Protection Agency was also established.

Global recycling was at the forefront of Earth Day 1990 and two years later the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit took place in Rio de Janeiro.

By the turn of the century, climate change became a major focus along with a push for clean energy. The United Nations chose Earth Day for the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change — April 22, 2016.

Since its beginning, the movement has grown into the Earth Day Network of more than 75,000 partners in 190 countries, according to the website earthday.org.

Moving forward, one of its goals is The Great Global Cleanup, a worldwide campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks.