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William Anders/NASA

Over the lunar horizon 44 years ago, the crew of Apollo 8 took the first color image of earth as seen from space.

Planet preview: A week's worth of Earth Days

by Rachel E. Gross and Denisse J. González
Apr 19, 2013

In 1968, NASA brought us the first color photo of our world from space. That image—“Earthrise”—inspired a generation to confront the woes afflicting our treasured, yet troubled planet. Earth Day was born to celebrate that little globe of green and blue.

Of course, the Earth’s problems are too weighty to be solved in a day, just as its wonders can offer a lifetime of exploration. Perhaps that’s why Earth Day, officially set for Monday, has blossomed into Earth week this year, with events ramping up across the Chicago region. More than four decades after its 1970 kick-off, Earth Day embraces our urban clean-ups, carbon-neutral races, and even earthworms.

Go green at any of the following events.

1. Earth Day Festival at Carol Stream Town Center
Make a reusable tote out of plastic grocery bags, then fill it at the massive Farmers’ Market. Bring home organic soaps, raw honey and potted tomato plants. (April 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.)

2. Earth Day Parks and Preserves Clean-Up
So much grime, so little time. If you only have time to visit one of Chicago’s many spectacular natural spaces, choose Busse Woods, Humboldt Park, or Whistler Woods. They excel in natural beauty but currently lack volunteers to whisk away stray bottles, papers and cans. Early birds get a free t-shirt. (April 20, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.)

3. Recycle the Earth Day, Barrington Hills
Need down-to-earth advice on how to become a better steward of the planet? Take a tip from nature’s slimy little helpers: earthworms. Observe these masters of decomposition as they recycle debris, then follow suit by making recycled crafts of your own at the Crabtree Nature Center. Sponsored by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. (April 21, noon-4 p.m.)

4. Earth Day at the Graue Mill, Oak Brook
Save $4.50 for adults, $2 for children with free admission to Oak Brook’s historic grain mill and museum. Tour the mill’s many storied nooks and crannies, then make a caterpillar out of rye seed. (April 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)

5. 5k for Earth Day, Chicago
Many race events kill forests worth of paper. Not the Earth Day 5k. Instead, you’ll be encouraged to sign up online, drink from reusable cups and recycle your water bottles. Any layers you shed during the race will be donated to charity. Become a lean, green, waste-fighting machine—then celebrate your victory at the Green Market in Lincoln Park, just steps from the finish line. $30 for adults, $20 for kids. (April 27, 9 a.m. Same-day registration starts at 8 a.m.)

6. North Lakeshore Earth Day Community Cleanup
Loyola University invites you to:  “Get dirty. Get sweaty. Get eco-friendly.” Join the fence-painting, gardening, recycling and other neighborhood restoration activities all day Saturday to celebrate Earth Day and climate awareness. (April 20, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

7. Earth Week at DePaul University
Green eggs and ham have nothing on this event. To raise awareness about access to sustainable food, DePaul University is showcasing a variety of tasty edibles. If you can’t make it on Monday, head over to the Share Fair and Green Food Festival Friday, April 26, to sample local restaurants’ sustainable options. (April 22-26.)

8. Green Week at Northwestern University
Find a day of green practices for a life of green living. Can you use less and recycle more? Attend the Alternative Transit Fair or take the “No Impact Challenge” to help the Chicago area get eco-friendly. (April 22-28.)

9. Earth Day and Arbor Day with the City of Evanston
Help Evanston replant trees at family-centered Arbor Day (April 26) and Earth Day activities to “honor our home, sweet home.”  Clean up the Ladd Arboretum or learn how to save energy in home use in Evanston’s YWCA. (April 27.)

10. Party for the Planet, Lincoln Park Zoo
A day for the kids, the family, the animals – and the planet. Watch the zoo animals celebrate Earth Day too with edible piñatas. Enjoy the earth-enrichment day’s activities. What’s more fun than a day where everyone and everything eco-parties together? (April 20, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.)