Screenshot: Earth Day Network
From worn out flip-flop recycling to sweet smelling soy candles benefiting water projects to tips from eco celeb Leonardo DiCaprio, for some large corporations, Earth Day is a milestone to kick start innovative environmental initiatives.
Many take cues from Earth Day Network's A Billion Acts of Green -- an effort to encourage companies, organizations, and individuals all over the world to do their part.
The six companies here -- including Aveda, MTV, GE, and Old Navy -- have made some solid efforts we hope others imitate.
Aveda's plant-based hair care products, body lotions, makeup, and perfume are made with 100 percent wind power, shipped with minimal packaging, and full of natural ingredients sourced from small growers around the world. The company's commitment to sustainability is so broad that it's no surprise they would celebrate Earth Month instead of just Earth Day.
Aveda has partnered with 35 national and international conservation organizations and raised more than $18 million during the months of April since 1999; This year, they're hosting the Aveda Walk for Water, 6K walks taking place all over the country to raise money for clean water charities, and offering a Light the Way soy candle that sends 100 percent of its proceeds to Global Greengrants water projects.
2. Old Navy
Clothing retailer Old Navy teamed up with TerraCycle for a Flip Flop Replay that begins on Earth Day. The company asks customers to drop off their worn, beat-up flip flops in stores until May 22; all the sandals will be delivered to TerraCycle, where they'll be melted down and turned into playgrounds across the country.
MTV is reaching out to its teen audience to inspire the next generation of environmentalists by partnering with TreeHugger for Action Brief: Environment, a roundup of ways you can pitch in on Earth Day when you aren't driving, choosing your family's energy supplier, or in a position to take over the grocery shopping.
While GE's entry into the Earth Day festivities isn't as event-focused as some of these others, April 22 is a significant day for the energy company: It's the deadline they set for having their new hybrid halogen-CFL bulbs on retail shelves.
The bulbs use a halogen light, which comes on as soon as you flip the switch, taking away one of the main complaints about CFLs. Then a compact fluorescent takes over, and, once its at full brightness, the halogen shuts off. Meanwhile, the shape of the bulb is a traditional incandescent, giving consumers nothing more to complain about.
5. L.A. Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo held its Earth Day celebration a few weeks early -- on April 9 and 10 -- by hosting an expo of interactive activities, music, craft booths, and exhibitors while showing off some of their most impressive local species.
They also dedicated a new parking lot -- and if "eco-friendly parking lot" sounds like an oxymoron, you're on the right track. But this one includes permeable pavement, irrigation systems, and bioswales to minimize runoff into the Los Angeles River, and was finished in time to be part of the Billion Acts of Green initiative.
Healthcare company Merck already installed solar panels that provide a combined 19 percent of the energy to its offices in Whitehouse Station and Summit, New Jersey, and their Earth Day focus is on reaching out to employees with sustainability tips.
Fairs at some sites will offer tips on everything from waste management and energy efficiency to local eating and electronics recycling; other sites will volunteer to clean up parts of their community;
Plus, they offer financial incentives to employees who conduct an energy audit at home and set up a carpooling guide, complete with maps and suggested co-drivers for their office in Molsheim, France.