10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

earth in palm of hand
Earth Day is a reminder that we only have one planet, so we should probably try to tidy it up a little on its special day. Jennifer Deacon/Getty Images

­When Ohio's Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1952, it caused $1.5 million in damage to Cleveland. The city's industrial revolution had taken its toll: The oil and debris clogging the river had ignited eight times before, and the city had developed quite a rep. When the river went up in flames yet again in 1968, the situation gained national attention. The Cuyahoga became a poster child for early environmentalists.

One of those "green" trailblazers, Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, had a plan to turn the then-grassroots campaign to save the environment into a mainstream movement. In 1969, he announced what would come to be the kick off for the movement, something called "Earth Day."

The mere mention of Earth Day 1970 drew the country's attention to the sad state of rivers, air and forests, especially when press outlets covering Nelson's announcement started running pollution stories that made people's hair stand on end. The environmental revolution had begun.

Earth Day has been celebrated every year since 1970, and almost 40 years later, its purpose remains the same: encourage social and political action by drawing attention to the cause. Every year, around the world, the damaged state of the environment comes to the forefront, and millions of people take the opportunity to pitch in -- if only for a day.

If you're one of those millions who would like to lend a hand in honor of Earth Day, you may be wondering what exactly you can do. In this article, we'll check out 10 great ways to commemorate Earth Day, whether you're looking to spend 5 minutes, 5 hours or a lifetime.

First up: Leave the car at home.