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Three Ways to Celebrate Earth Day All Year

By Steph Tyll

4/22/2024 | Happy Earth Day from everyone at RODE! Since our founding in 2006, we’ve made sustainability a priority in all of our projects, so it should come as no surprise that Earth Day is near and dear to our hearts.

This year, we volunteered with Mass DCR’s Park Serve Day, participating in a big cleanup at Carson Beach in Dorchester. Armed with work gloves and trash bags, we scoured that beach from end to end and lugged a truly massive pile of garbage out! You would not believe what kinds of strange and unexpected things wash up on an urban beach (much less what visitors just leave behind!).

Despite a gray and rainy day, it felt good to make such an impact volunteering with a group like the DCR (Department of Conservation & Recreation). If hearing about our experience has you charged up to make a difference in your community, you have so many great options!

1. Volunteer with a Group

It might be too late to jump onto an Earth Day-specific volunteering opportunity, but there are plenty of groups looking for help all year round (or at least seasonally). Here are just a handful of options local to the Boston area:

  • Boston Harbor Now hosts Moakley Park cleanups the third or fourth Saturday of each month from March through September (except May) from 9:00 -11:00 AM. All necessary tools, including gloves, pickers, bags, sharps containers, and safety instructions will be provided.

  • Clean up the Boston Harbor Islands on Stewardship Saturdays! Work alongside park staff clearing invasive species, improving trails, and protecting important habitat areas. Check the park calendar for regularly scheduled events offered year-round.

  • MassAudubon has opportunities all across the state, with positions from A to Z: Advocacy, Building and construction, Conservation, Design, Education, Front desk and visitor services, Gardening ... and more! Check out their Volunteer Portal for what’s coming up next.

  • The Esplanade Association has opportunities for individuals and organizations to keep the Esplanade clean and beautiful.

2. Plant a (Native) Tree

Trees (and other plantings) have so many benefits it’s hard to pick just a few to highlight! We incorporate them in as many of our projects as possible, often exceeding what is required by code so that we can do our part to improve the neighborhood around that particular development. (Did you see our blog article on Chelsea Point? A Northeastern research team has been studying the effects of the green infrastructure attached to that project!)

Additionally, native trees are a key part of the ecosystem. These plants have spent millions of years evolving alongside native wildlife, and now exist in a symbiotic relationship. Keystone species are especially important: this term refers to the 14% of native plant species which support 90% of butterfly and moth species, as well as other essential insect species that 96% of terrestrial birds rely on for food sources. Remove these keystone species, and the ecosystem collapses (yes, like an ancient Roman arch!). (Learn more about keystone species via the National Wildlife Federation.)

3. Remove Invasive Species

All the benefits that native species provide, invasive species lack - they don’t host wildlife and they spread aggressively, taking up resources and crowding out those critical native species. Check out MassWildlife’s or MassAudubon’s guide to invasive plants for more information on identification and removal.

Many of these plants are used ornamentally by gardeners who don’t realize the negative impacts they have - luckily, there are great native options for everything out there! Check out the U.S. Forest Service’s Native Plant Alternatives or Blue Stem Native’s What to Plant guide.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Earth Day!


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