There's something for everyone in area Earth Day festivities.
So you do your part: You bring your own bag when you shop, you recycle, eat local foods, maybe compost or bike to work.
Still, it's fun to gather with other eco-conscious people, and Earth Day provides plenty of opportunities.
Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul/Mendota Heights is inviting volunteers for snacks before pulling buckthorn, picking up litter and cleaning up its flower gardens from 5:15 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
"We'll mostly be pulling buckthorn and clearing trails to get ready for all our spring programs," said John Chandler, director of development and marketing. "The time of year is good. More people are looking to get outside."
At 10 a.m. Saturday, Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan will host its own Earth Day cleanup. "We send them out on a trail with some gear just to check along a trail and see what's been hiding from us all winter," said Dakota County Parks Education Coordinator Krista Jensen. Volunteers who fill a bag will receive a coupon good for a free one-hour canoe or kayak rental this summer at Lebanon Hills.
"We'll also have the boats out for people to paddle around," she said. "Hopefully, it will be nice and warm that day."
During the event, participants can enter a free raffle to win prizes like pizza garden seeds or gift cards to a local nursery. They also can try fitness walks or aquatic netting ("bug-dipping") and learn to identify bugs while discussing water quality.
"Generally, it's just squealing in excitement that they found something," said Jensen.
The day culminates with live music around the campfire.
From noon to 4 p.m. April 30, Northfield will host its "Perennial Earth Day Celebration: Cows, Colleges, and Compost!" on the Bridge Square/Riverwalk area.
Kids can make hemp bracelets and origami animals, get a free bike tuneup, sew a coin bag from a pair of jeans, and make masks and banners to join in a parade. There will be a rain barrel workshop, a dance clinic with Mexican Folkloric dancers, wool spinning demos, a compost exhibit and music like African drumming and bluegrass. Sign language interpreters will be on hand for all events.
"It's a day of sharing as well as celebrating," said event organizer Mary Jo Cristofaro. "I love the fact that we're trying be a zero-waste event and that we're doing carbon offset. Building awareness is really crucial to that day. People might also discover how to put solar system on their roof, a gray water system, or geothermal."
Farmington also will host its annual Earth and Arbor Day event from 9 to 11 a.m. on April 30. Participants can help clean up ponds and parks, and lunch will be provided. Afterward, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Rambling River Park, kids can dance, talk to a naturalist, get free tree seedlings, and do science and art activities. Organizers encourage visitors to bring broken crayons so they can be recycled into new crayons.
On May 7 in Farmington, volunteers can plant trees for the Vermillion River as a stream stabilization project. The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. until noon.
Hastings is planting trees at Veterans' Athletic Complex on April 29 and holding its Earth Day parks and trails cleanup at 9 a.m. May 7 at Lake Rebecca Park.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Minneapolis freelance writer.