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Celebrating Earth Day 2024

Graphic with Earth that says Celebrate Earth Day 2024 be part of the solutionThe first Earth Day in 1970 mobilized millions of Americans to demand action and launch the modern environmental movement. Since then, Earth Day has evolved into the largest civic event on the planet, activating billions of people each year to care for the environment and take action for a brighter future.

Achieving our zero-waste and climate-action goals will require a lot of different people putting their interests, skills, talents, and connections to work in a lot of different areas. Here are some ways the county is taking action and ideas for getting involved this Earth Day so you can find an opportunity that works for you!

Cleaning up and protecting lakes, rivers, and streams

A group of people wearing safety vests and holding trash pickers and garbage bags and text that says join a cleanup eventThe Mississippi River – and all of the lakes, rivers, and streams in Hennepin County – provide critical habitat for wildlife, offer recreational opportunities, and serve as the foundation for our region’s well-being, economic prosperity, and collective quality of life. 

This is why we’ve accepted the challenge to participate in the Mighty Mississippi Cleanup. Cleaning up litter, leaves, and other pollutants helps keep our waters clean and healthy. This is also why we support initiatives to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and encourage residents, businesses, and partners to use best practices that protect water.

Be part of the solution

  • Join a cleanup event – see our map of Earth Day events to find cleanups in your community.
  • Organize your own cleanup with colleagues, neighbors, or friends. Use the Adopt-a-River toolkit from Freshwater to help plan. Report your data and share a photo to be included in our Mighty Mississippi Cleanup results.
  • Sign up to Adopt-a-Drain and report your drain clean out – any data reported between April 15 and May 15 in Hennepin County will be counted toward our Mighty Mississippi Cleanup results.
  • Celebrate all the activities we enjoy in and around our lakes while protecting them from aquatic invasive species by joining Lake Pledge. You download the Lake Pledge app or join online.

Advancing a zero-waste future

Photo of a food in a fridge including eggs, yogurt, and spinach with text that says prevent wasted foodThe county is focused on implementing the Zero Waste Plan to achieve our goal of preventing 90% or more of all discarded materials from being landfilled or incinerated. 

We are launching a campaign focused on preventing wasted food, supporting cities as they expand residential organics recycling programs, increasing reuse of building materials, advocating for state leadership on zero-waste policies and holding producers responsible for reducing packaging waste, and helping businesses, schools, and multifamily properties reduce waste and improve recycling.

Be part of the solution

Learning and connecting in our communities

Man in a hat behind a Hennepin County table with resources with text that says attend an Earth Day eventHennepin County provides environmental education to support a community that has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivation, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward sustaining a healthy environment. 

We focus on raising awareness about issues, generating excitement and empowerment around actions, engaging with residents to understand how issues and programs impact them, and partnering with community to motivate behavior change and collectively build support for solutions.

Be a part of the solution

  • Attend an Earth Day event
  • Talk about climate change and environmental issues with your family, friends and neighbors – share why you care, what actions you are taking, and how others can join you. Use these tips to start the conversation.
  • Encourage a community organization or school that you know to apply for a Green Partners grant – applications due April 25.
  • Get plugged into our environmental education network – we facilitate learning and sharing of resources and opportunities through a monthly newsletter, quarterly networking meetings, and Facebook group.

Planting and caring for trees

Photo of a mom and dad with two young girls with their hands on the dirt around a newly planted tree with text that says care for treesTrees and forests provide many benefits. They improve air and water quality, contribute to our health and community well-being, provide shade and reduce the urban heat island effect, create wildlife habitat, save energy, and increase property values. Trees play an important role in fighting climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The county is over one-third of the way toward achieving our climate-action goal of planting 1 million trees with the help of cities, partners, and residents by 2030, and we are increasing that number through spring tree sales and plantings. 

The county is also implementing a $10 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service to help homeowners with low incomes get trees removed and replaced, support community-based organizations, and create new workforce programs. Tree removal applications are expected to open in June. 

Be part of the solution

Get around sustainably

Picture of family biking with text that says bike, walk, take transit, or carpoolGasoline-powered vehicles are a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in Hennepin County come from people using motorized vehicles for transportation. 

Hennepin County is working in a number of ways to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This includes designing our roads using our Complete and Green Streets to provide multi-modal options and reduce vehicle miles traveled and helping to build out more reliable transit systems.

Be part of the solution

  • Choose to bike, walk, take public transit, and carpool instead.
  • Engage in community discussions about roadway planning and design
  • Invest in an electric or hybrid vehicle. See a guide to electric vehicles from Minnesota Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs).
  • Cut down on airplane travel by planning a local eco-getaway.

Conserving energy and switching to renewable energy

Close up of a person's hand adjusting a thermostat with text that says use energy efficientlyTo meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, the county is focused on conserving energy, using energy more efficiently, and transitioning to clean, renewable energy in county facilities.

The county, using recommendations from a solar feasibility study conducted last year, is planning to install solar arrays at several libraries, service centers, and other county facilities this year. With these projects, the county is on a clear path to reach its on-site solar goal. The county is also accelerating the installation of heat pumps, which includes geothermal systems, to reduce fossil fuels used for heating, cooling, and hot water in county facilities and has commissioned two studies to guide future efforts to electrify and decarbonize county buildings.

The county is focused on energy conservation and efficiency through actions like retrofitting buildings, adopting energy efficient technology, and continuously commissioning buildings to meet our greenhouse gas emission goals.

Be part of the solution

Other actions

Venn diagram with what brings you joy, what are you good at, and what is the work that needs doing on the outside and what you should do in the middle

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