Earth Day’s roots are over 50 years old. The inaugural event in 1970 was spearheaded by Denis Hayes, an environmental advocate who grew up in Camas, Clark County, as a way to call attention to environmental issues. Over a half-century later, Earth Day is celebrated in all shapes and forms around the world, and it continues to serve as a call for action to increase awareness and efforts to protect the planet and its ecosystems through regenerative action.
In honor of Earth Day, observed April 22, celebrate not just by getting outside, but by giving back to our national parks, coasts and environment — even in small ways. Here are seven ideas to help you celebrate Earth Day with intention in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Help restore the outdoors
Earth Day coastal cleanup
Fancy a day at the beach? Bring new meaning to your ocean outing and help maintain Washington’s beautiful coastlines. Washington CoastSavers, which includes several Indigenous tribes, Olympic National Park, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Surfrider Foundation hosts three annual coordinated coastal cleanups along Olympic Peninsula beaches. Coastal cleanups have been held along the southern Washington coast since 1971 and have since expanded northward to more difficult-to-reach Olympic Peninsula beaches.
This year, you can sign up to join a clean-up at 34 beaches along the Pacific Coast or Strait of Juan de Fuca on Saturday, April 22. So, get outside and soak up the salty sea air and the sounds of crashing waves while you join other volunteers for a day of cleaning up garbage to help keep Washington’s coasts clean and pristine. (Can’t make it this weekend? The organization also hosts beach cleanups over Fourth of July weekend, and in September around International Coast Cleanup Day.)
Plant trees and clean parks with Green Seattle Partnerships or King County Parks
For some nature enthusiasts, the most rewarding way to spend time outdoors is to dig deep into the earth so new life can flourish. Throughout the year, Green Seattle Partnerships and King County Parks run volunteer events that get people together to restore and preserve parks across Western Washington. Pull weeds and invasive plants, such as invasive species of blackberries, spread mulch and pick up litter alongside other green-minded volunteers.
Why limit your volunteering to Earth Day? Help out year-round. During winter months, you can join in by planting trees and shrubs to prepare for a spring bloom.
Get nerdy about nature
Join North Cascades Institute for interactive learning in nature
Want to learn about the Pacific Northwest’s ecosystem biodiversity on your hikes and outdoor excursions? Whether you’re hoping to identify indigenous plants or recognize spring bird calls, North Cascades Institute runs numerous one-day and weekend experiences during the spring and summer months. Join the institute for its Spring Stewardship Weekend, April 28-30, for a few days of replanting flora around the center. Prices start at $158 to cover the cost of a room (with choices of triple, double or private accommodation).
Next month, head to Whidbey Island on May 7 to learn about sustainable seaweed harvesting, foraging, and seaweed-inspired cuisine ($135). Or, if you’re curious to discover more of Western Washington’s extensive biodiversity, join Ed Grumbine, former backcountry ranger and North Cascades Institute co-founder, for a weekend of immersive and educational exploring in the North Cascades wilderness May 12-14 (from $296).
Eat with the Earth in mind
Dine at Harvest Beat
Seattle and Western Washington aren’t short on phenomenal farm-to-table dining options. Harvest Beat is among the local spots committed to lightening their footprint. This cozy Wallingford establishment whips up seasonal vegan and vegetarian five-course tasting menus that can include dishes like chili-lime grilled blue-oyster mushroom with a grilled pineapple Champagne mango relish, and wild mushrooms and black lemon cauliflower bisque with a cilantro ginger jalapeño chimichurri sauce. The ingredients in these colorful creations are mostly sourced from local farmers and foragers. A minimal-waste attitude is intertwined throughout Harvest Beat’s ethos, from the team’s onsite garden to the restaurant’s interior design choices of recycled materials and eco-friendly paint.
Spend an afternoon tasting organic wines
Organic, minimal-intervention vintages aren’t the stars of Washington wine quite yet, but they’re slowly making their way onto the scene. While Washingtonians have a few options for tasting sustainable vintages, we recommend hopping on the ferry to visit Bainbridge Vineyards, pioneers in Washington’s sustainable wine scene.
Bainbridge Vineyards, founded by Gerard and Jo Ann Bentryn in 1977, earned its B Corp Certification in 2018 — a private certification measuring businesses’ social and environmental performances — and is committed to growing organic grapes and lightening its carbon footprint whenever possible, including sustainable, organic farming that is draft-horse and human-powered. Thankfully, its wines happen to be pretty tasty as well. Spend an afternoon doing your part for the environment by sipping on some delicious, organic blends inspired by French and German varietals in Bainbridge Vineyard’s wine garden.
Sip sustainable brews
Looking to satisfy your craving for a good brew? Whether you prefer beer or coffee, it’s no secret that Seattle is home to masters of both crafts. A handful of establishments around the city are committed to creating quality coffee and beer experiences, while also prioritizing the environment through their business practices. For your morning caffeine kick, make a stop at Seven Coffee Roasters in Ravenna, which was named Seattle’s first zero-waste cafe in 2020 after the cafe was re-imagined by Jacob Huskey, a University of Washington student and Seven Coffee Roasters barista. Elimination of single-use plastic and unnecessary packaging for coffee beans and baked goods is its biggest waste-saver. The shop specializes in Hawaiian roasts and pastries from local bakeries.
When it’s time for a post-work ale, swing by the beloved Fremont Brewing. While this brewery is a widely recognized name in Seattle, what might not be as well-known is its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. In addition to serving up some of the tastiest IPAs in the city, Fremont Brewing adopts zero-waste production practices, has recycled material in its cans, uses 60% renewable energy, and invests in sustainable ingredient sourcing.
Head out of town
Spend a weekend in Victoria, one of North America’s greenest cities
Do you ever truly need an excuse to spend a few days relishing in the beauty of Victoria? Seattle’s enchanting neighbor recently received the Responsible Tourism Institute’s Biosphere Certification award, which makes the British Columbian harbor town all the more charming.
During your visit, take in the sights, scents and sounds of the coastal forest along the Malahat SkyWalk, a sustainably constructed walkway dedicated to environmental stewardship. Spend a day on the water searching for humpback whales and orcas with Eagle Wing Tours, a carbon-neutral company committed to investing in the local environment and community. Its boats use Yamaha four-stroke engines that are clean and quiet, creating minimal disturbance to marine wildlife.
Sustainable eateries are abundant in Victoria, where homegrown produce and ethically sourced seafood make up the menus at the city’s favorite dining spots. Standout options include Nourish Kitchen and Cafe for grain bowls and breakfast Benedicts, Wind Cries Mary for dinner plates inspired by the bounties of local farmers and fishmongers, and the Floating Fish Store for sustainable seafood favorites like chowders, fish tacos and steamed mussels. Relax with a glass (or two) of cider from Sea Cider, a farm-based cidery masterfully crafting ciders from organic apples grown on-site with minimal intervention.
After a day of adventures, unwind at the Inn at Laurel Point, British Columbia’s first carbon-neutral hotel that sits right on the waterfront and aims to minimize its carbon footprint while encouraging regionwide sustainability. It has incorporated innovative practices systems like a hydrothermal heating system powered by ocean water, and it has a designated SustaINN Team to help achieve its 2030 sustainability goals, including adding more electric vehicle chargers and a live carbon counter to track progress.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.