Man with surfboards
The O’Neill Sea Odyssey is partnering with anti-tobacco organizations to raise awareness on tobacco use’s impact on health and the environment through The Cigarette Surfboard Project virtual event.
(The Cigarette Surfboard Project)

Celebrating Earth Day? Here’s what’s happening around Santa Cruz County

Earth Day is Thursday — with events stretching into the weekend. To celebrate our blue planet, consider taking the opportunity to restore natural spaces, learn about electric vehicles, ride the city’s new electric bus (for free) and engage with local activists.

Some say that Earth Day is every day in Santa Cruz. But on Thursday, April 22, it’s officially the 51st Earth Day for nations around the whole world. Many local entities are celebrating with community events, seminars, films and more.

Originally, Earth Day was meant to garner support for the environmental protection movement of the 1970s. While the core message remains the same half a century later, there are countless ways to show support for the planet these days.

For some folks, it’s an opportunity to appreciate nature’s wonders, spend time in the garden, maybe learn about local species, or just enjoy a day at the beach. For others, it’s a time to take action.

However you choose to celebrate, Santa Cruz County has a wide range of opportunities to get involved with the community. Here’s a round-up of what’s happening this week; be sure to click on the links within these items for more information:

In-Person Events

  • Beach Beautification: The Madani Real Estate team is hosting a community beach clean-up at 26th Avenue Beach on the evening of April 22. Every piece of trash removed from the environment is one less opportunity for wildlife to choke, starve or die from entanglement due to marine debris. Gloves, bags, and tools will be provided. To learn more about California’s plastic problem, check out this short film from PBS.
  • Fun in the sun: The Watsonville Wetlands Watch is hosting a community restoration day at Struve Slough on April 24. Get outside and help take care of newly planted trees, remove invasive species, and more while having fun outdoors.
  • Free electric Metro rides: Santa Cruz Metro will be offering free fares on its first-ever electric bus on April 22. You can find the electric bus on the following routes; for more details click here:
    • Pacific Station 9:15 a.m.: Outbound 68 Broadway/Portola to Capitola Mall
    • Capitola Mall 10 a.m.: Inbound 66 Live Oak/17th to Santa Cruz
    • Pacific Station 11 a.m.: Outbound 69A Airport/Watsonville
    • Watsonville Transit Center: 12:45 p.m.: Route 72 Green Valley-Hospital
    • Watsonville Transit Center 2:20 p.m.: Inbound 91X Cabrillo Express to Santa Cruz
  • Party for the planet: The Santa Cruz Climate Action Network is hosting Earth Day At The Commons, at 1 p.m. on April 24. There will be speakers, live music, art displays, chalk art, information tables and more. Bring your own reusable water bottle and a chair to the farmers market lot at Cathcart and Cedar.
  • E-waste: Not sure what to do with old electronics? They don’t belong in your trashcan or recycle bin. Electronics contain a multitude of materials packed inside, some of it valuable, some of it recyclable. In honor of Earth Day, the City of Watsonville Solid Waste Department asks you to dispose of your E-waste properly by bringing it down to Ramsay Park between 9 a.m. and noon on April 24. They will also be collecting old tires, and passing out free oil change kits to anyone who comes out. Click here for information about this and other Watsonville Earth Day activities.
  • Meet nature: Get closer with wildlife by using your phone to identify plants and animals. The San Lorenzo Valley Museum in Felton is having a hands-on exploratory event at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, where participants will learn how to use the world-famous app, iNaturalist, to identify and record the creatures they see in the museum and outdoors. There will also be an introduction to nature journaling for those who prefer to record their sightings on paper, so bring a notebook along with your mobile device.
  • Gardening to remember: In 2019, Santa Cruz local Vaidehi Cambell Williams passed away (along with 33 other people, several of them from Santa Cruz) when the scuba boat Conception caught fire off the coast of Santa Barbara. On April 22, join Williams’ coworkers, friends, and other community members at the Soquel Creek Water District for a planting day in her memory. The district office’s new landscaping is designed as a water-wise demonstration garden and the public is invited to check it out. This event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 5180 Soquel Drive.

Virtual Events

  • Electric Vehicles: Learn about how you might qualify for a free or low-cost electric vehicle, from the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance. This seminar will feature cost breakdowns to help folks figure out their potential savings, as well as a lesson on EV basics like charging, battery range, new vs. used, and more. This event will be broadcast in English and Spanish on April 24, via Zoom. Registration is Required.
  • Film Screening: UC Santa Cruz Sustainability Office is hosting several events, including an asynchronous screening of the award-winning documentary “The Need to GROW” followed by a virtual Q & A with professor Stacy Philpott from the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems on April 22. Registration is required. Find even more Earth Day events hosted by UCSC here.
  • Cigarettes into surfboards: On the evening of April 22, environmental protection and education organization O’Neill Sea Odyssey and local partners are hosting a free, virtual event (registriation required) about The Cigarette Surfboard project. The initiative, supported by big name surfers and celebrities like Jack Johnson and Cliff Kapono, is meant to raise awareness about the tobacco industry’s impacts on human health and the environment in addition to creating one-of-a-kind surfboards inlaid with thousands of recovered cigarette butts. The event will feature a chat with the founders and local advocates.