Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in Columbia, SC

Congaree River in Columbia, SC
Congaree River | Photo via @mollymrosier

Today is Earth Day – an annual environmental movement aimed to protect the future of our planet and educate the public on the effects of pollution. Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year + began in 1970, making this year the 50th anniversary of the movement.

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin launched the first Earth Day, which resulted in 20 million Americans, or 10% of the U.S. population at the time, demonstrating their views on the human impact to the environment. Earth Day of 1970 led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the end of the year + the passage of many environmental laws. By 1990, Earth Day had become the global movement that we know today.

Although celebrations + activities will be different this year, there are many ways our community can still participate in Earth Day and help protect our planet. 

Congaree National Park | Photo via @chrisastro

Earth Day activities

Teach the kids about living sustainably + preserving the Earth with these family-friendly activities from Dominion Energy.

Start a litter cleanup through your neighborhood (while practicing social distancing). Check out this resource from PalmettoPride for ideas.

Have extra shoes laying around the house? Keep them out of the landfill and donate to the Keep the Midlands Beautiful shoe drive. There are many drop off locations throughout the Midlands.

Tune into a climate crisis webinar hosted by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina tonight at 7 p.m. The discussion will focus on four environmental issues important to S.C. 

Year-round initiatives

Even more important than recycling items you no longer need is recycling those items properly. Check out DHEC’s Recycle Right SC campaign for all of the need-to-know information on how to recycle

Composting food waste and yard clippings prevents the material from entering the landfill + generates nutrient-rich soil perfect for use around the house. For more information and composting directions, take a look at DHEC’s composting guide.

The three rivers that flow through Columbia are a vital part of our community, but face large threats from pollution and urbanization. Congaree Riverkeeper works to protect and improve them. Read about ways you can help here.


While learning about + protecting our planet is important today, there are many easy ways we can decrease our impact on a daily basis. Composting food, carpooling, recycling + using reusable shopping bags are some of the many ideas DHEC recommends.

Check out this site for a full list of environmental organizations throughout the Midlands.