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The Green Trail at Mashomack Nature Preserve. (Photo courtesy of the Nature Conservancy)

Since 1970, April 22 has been officially recognized as Earth Day, now one of the largest civic events on the planet observed by hundreds of millions across the globe. The event was founded by U.S. senator and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson, after he was inspired by seeing the disastrous effects from an oil spill while visiting Santa Barbara, California in 1969.

What started out initially as teach-ins held at colleges across the nation to spread awareness on environmental issues and responsibility quickly became a global campaign in the 1990s that included “200 million people in 141 countries, lifting the status of environmental issues onto the world stage,” according to the 1989 New York Times article “The Business of Earth Day.”

This year’s theme is “Planet vs. Plastics,” highlighting the tough fact that 380 million metric tonnes of plastic are now produced every year. “For Earth Day 2024 on April 22, is unwavering our commitment to end plastics for the sake of human and planetary health, demanding a 60 percent reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040,” according to the the organization’s site.

Interesting in stopping the plastic surge? Here’s where you can go and what you can do here on the East End to help out, acknowledge and act on what is arguably the most important holiday of the year.

Pianist Beyza Yazgan plays in a special Earth Day-themed musical performance at First Presbyterian Church in East Hampton. (Photo courtesy of Beyza Yazgan)

East Hampton Town

Kids ages three to six are welcome to the East Hampton Library on Wednesday, April 17, for a Earth Day project. Little artists will make a map of planet Earth using pointillism, a painting technique that utilizes small dots of color in patterns to form a distinct image. Sign-up is required. The next day, April 18, there’s a DIY flowerpot decorating and planting (designed for teens) at the library.

On Sunday, April 21, the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton hosts and Earth Day concert at 3 p.m. featuring young virtuoso guest pianist Beyza Yazgan. The program will include classics from Chopin, Messiaen, Debussy, Rachmaninoff as well as “Native Planting Song” by Jean Sibelius and a three-part work by special guest and composer Brian Field called “Three Passions for Our Tortured Planet,” focusing on climate change (yeah, a little heavy, but sometimes the truth hurts!). There’s a suggested donation of $20 for this event, which will benefit the Matthew Lester pollinator garden at the East Hampton Farm Museum. According to a release from the church, Lester was passionate about caring for the local environment and implemented the garden while he was in high school as part of his eagle scout project.

Southampton Town

Saturday, April 20, Relic Sustainability hosts its 4th annual Beach Clean-up Competition along the beaches on Dune Road in West Hampton Dunes, in conjunction with the Moriches Bay Project and the West Hampton Dunes Barrier Beach Preservation Association. From 9 a.m. to noon, participants will be cleaning up Cupsogue Beach County Park, Pike’s Beach and Lashley’s Beach (aka Jetty 4).

All are welcome to join Slow Food East End’s Earth Day Celebration on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph Villa (81 Lynn Ave.), located on the shoreline of Shinnecock Bay in Hampton Bays. The Villa is home to the Ecological Culture Initiative, an organization that advocates for education in sustainable food production, environmental stewardship and wellness. They’re also responsible for managing Good Ground Heritage Garden, the Good Ground Seed Library and the community compost program.

Free to attend, this is a great opportunity for the public to shop, learn, taste and enjoy the fruits of the South Fork. On hand will be local farmers, food and wine producers, artists, educators and activists. There’ll be demonstrations on composting, seed sowing, pollinator gardens and kelp farming, art projects for the kiddos (and the kids at heart, too) with live music from Points East. Food and drink will be provided by Peconic Gold Oysters, Grace & Grit, and local wineries. Click here to register.

The 2024 Docs Equinox starts in Southampton today, with this year’s focus: “Cultivating Connections: Soils, Farms, Food.” (Photo courtesy of Hamptons DocFest)

Head to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, April 27, for an Earth Day Celebration for all. Starting at noon, the day will include guided birding walks, environmental crafts and exhibitions, live animal presentations and self-guided kayaking and canoeing. Offered in part by the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, attendees are also encouraged to bring old electronics for recycling. This is event is rain or shine and is expected to go until 3 p.m..

Southampton Arts Center is partnering with Hamptons Doc Fest for Docs Equinox, a three-day documentary film and special programming starting tonight. This installment of the annual springtime event is aptly dubbed “Cultivating Connections: Soils, Farms, Food.” Tickets for all three days are $50, $40 for SAC members while individual tickets for each day are $20.

Kicking things off is a cocktail reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at SAC, followed by an introduction to the featured film with directors Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo. Food Inc. 2: Back for Seconds will screen at 7:15 p.m. Saturday’s festivities will also include a 5:30 p.m. cocktail reception, with a screening of the film Common Ground, introduced by Sag Harbor resident and former owner of Provisions health food store Kate Plumb at 7 p.m.. On Sunday, the day kicks off with breakfast treats at 11 a.m. and a talk with local farmer and poet Scott Chaskey at 11:45. The Soul of a Farmer screens at noon with a Q&A with Patty Genry and Isabella Rossellini. At 12:45 p.m. it’s a screening of Kelp! followed along with a Q&A with director Caylon La Manitia.

On Saturday, April 27, the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton will host its annual Earth Day Celebration with an open house containing day-long fun. Activities will include outdoor nature events and crafts for all ages.

Southampton’s Rogers Memorial Library hosts a seed bomb event perfect for teens looking to get an hour of community service. Designed for those in grades 6 to 12, participants will gather at the library on Tuesday, April 23, at 4 p.m. and create flower seed bombs to help spread pollinating flowers for local insects and animals. Click here to register.

Mashomack Preserve holds an afternoon of Earth Day fun. (Photo Credit: David Benthal)

Shelter Island

All are welcome to Shelter Island’s Mashomack Preserve Visitor Center on Saturday, April 20, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to celebrate Earth Day. Presented in part as a collaborative effort with the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, there’ll be an animal show from 1 to 2 p.m., a scavenger hunt along the preserve’s trails and a make-your-own native seed bombs activity. Nature-inspired snacks will be available to this drop-in event. Located at 79 South Ferry Road.

North Fork

Indian Island County Park in Riverhead serves as the setting for the North Fork Environmental Council’s Earth Day 5K on Saturday, April 28. Registration begins at 9 a.m. while the race and walk starts at 10. To enter, it’s $30 per person or $70 for a family of four and $15 for participants 16 and under. Proceeds will be used to fund the council’s annual scholarships and educational programs. Click here to register.