HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Earth Day is celebrated every year as a global event on April 22.

The holiday, first held in 1970, is the largest observance in the world which caters to preserving a clean, habitable Earth.

This year, much of the activism has been focused on taking action and changing the climate to help preserve the earth. The Hampton Roads community is participating in its own special way with several events and activities throughout the month and beyond.

One of the local organizations in the community doing its part to save the planet is Hampton Roads Transit. HRT announced that it will not collect fares on April 22. HRT officials say they are committed to helping reduce carbon emissions & improving air quality.

In Norfolk, city officials and organizations are expanding the celebration into the whole month of April.

Members of the City of Norfolk’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action Team are launching a series of programs throughout April focused on “combating climate change” with plant-based eating and food waste reduction.

Officials say eating a plant-rich diet and reducing food waste are effective ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions. 

With the celebration of Earth Month, they are encouraging community members to participate in a “Meatless Mondays” challenge by consuming a plant-based diet every Monday throughout the month of April.

When residents sign up for the challenge, they will receive free recipes and tips on how to transition to a healthy plant-based diet.

Below is a list of additional programming:

  • April 11: ‘Vegan Eats’ at City Hall – Vegan food trucks will be onsite 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This event will also feature community outreach with the Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center’s Waggin’ Wheels mobile unit.
  • April 22: City of Norfolk’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action Team Webpage Launch – The webpage established HERE will serve as a one-stop resource for climate action in Norfolk.
  • April 22: Earth Day Event at Norfolk Premium Outlets – The City’s Environmental Sustainability Team will participate in this community outreach event at the Norfolk Premium Outlets.
  • April 25: ‘Vegan Eats’ at MacArthur Square – Vegan food trucks will be onsite 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Throughout April, residents are encouraged to use the hashtag #ShowUsYourPlateNFK and submit pictures of their plant-based meals on social media for a chance to win environmentally sustainable prizes.

Residents can tag the city @NorfolkVA in their posts.

Additionally, The Muse Writing Center hosts virtual poetry reading on April 22 in honor of Earth Day. Learn more.

On Saturday, April 23, Nauticus is hosting Earth Day programming, including:

  • Keep Norfolk Beautiful: Start your own pollinator garden on our pavilion! Pollinator species help fertilize the plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines. 
  • 757 Creative Reuse Center: Create a nature journal and adventure around Nauticus’ campus! Discover how Nauticus protects our waterways. 
  • Less Than: Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint at home with zero waste and refillable products. 
  • Slover Library:Peruse their collection of environmental-themed children, teens, and adult books that you can read or checkout. 
  • Virginia MOCAVisitors will view natural specimens through microscopes and use crayons and watercolor markers to recreate the microscopic slide on paper.  
  • Sail Nauticus Academy Pollinator Garden Reveal: During the winter months, the Academy students started a pollinator garden in partnership with Keep Norfolk Beautiful.  
    • 12 p.m.: Join in the ribbon cutting ceremony as they reveal the finished garden, planted in a customized dinghy! 
  • Grab a snack or treat from Dula’s Fish Fry and Rita’s Italian Ice food trucks.  

In Virginia Beach, residents can celebrate the Earth by visiting and supporting local places and organizations that aim to help preserve and educate community members regarding agriculture, natural resources and more.

  • Visit The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center to learn about conservation through research education, and sustainable practices while also getting a full view of local sea life and the team’s preservation efforts.
  • Come to Mt. Trashmore where a recycling zone will be set up for community members to drop off items to vendors such as hazardous household waste, documents for off-site shredding, electronics, old medications, and pills. Car batteries and car seats will also be available for drop-offs.
    • Earth Day Recycling Zone is set for April 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • On April 23, Mt. Trashmore will host a whole day full of exhibitors, vendors, food trucks, educational talks, hands-on experiences, and informational displays.
  • The Thoroughgood House, located at 1636 Parish Road, will be hosting a full slate of free festivities on April 29, from noon to 7 p.m.
    • Visitors can enjoy an all-day scavenger hunt, as well as participate in hands-on craft activities like making a pinwheel and paper tree. The Thoroughgood Master Gardeners will also be on-site to answer questions and give information about the Thoroughgood House colonial garden.