Green Tips: Best Day in the Park

Green Tips | April 11, 2019

Earth Day is April 22nd but we’re celebrating all month! Help us honor the natural environment by spending time visiting your local park or playground.

Parks and green spaces are one of our most valuable environmental resources. They help mitigate climate change, provide clean air, create habitats for wildlife, and serve as a great space to enjoy nature with friends and family!

Find which of New York’s 88 state parks are near you or what city parks are located in your borough. Here are some green tips on having the best day in the park.

Be Active

  • Get some exercise. According to a 2018 report by the Center for Disease Control, only about 23% of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise per week. Exercising outdoors is good for the environment because it avoids work-out machines that use energy. In addition to decreasing carbon emissions, exercising outdoors can provide a better appreciation for nature, which can positively impact how you treat the environment. Go for a run, a bike ride, or a hike. You can also play some classic park games such as kickball, basketball, or soccer. Check out these kid-friendly games you can try with the whole family.
  • Bring your dog. Visiting pet-friendly parks with furry companions is another great way to stay active. Your dog’s playful running, digging, and burying can benefit soil. Digging up the soil exposes it to air, which helps renew and enrich the environment. Make sure to be aware of leash regulations. While there are no statewide leash regulations for dogs, check your local town’s regulations. In NYC, dogs must be on a leash from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, so be sure to plan your trips accordingly.
  • Enjoy the fresh air. Trees in parks improve air quality by storing carbon and removing pollutants from the atmosphere. Simply taking a walk in a park can help you breathe clean, fresh air that can boost your immune system, reduce stress, and energize your body.

Learn About Nature

  • Bring nature books. Parks hold an abundance of information about nature and can serve as an outdoor classroom for your nature education. Find books that interest you at your local library and use them to explore bird watching, identify plants, or monitor insect activity on your next nature walk. Check out this guide for animal tracking, or these recommendations for birdwatching books and mobile apps to get you started.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. This family-friendly activity is a great way to enhance your education of nature and motivate children. Create a list of items that you may come across in a park such as different types of leaves, trees, rocks, and pinecones. Make a nature journal and log your findings! Learning about the environment not only teaches us how to care for the earth and our community, but also raises awareness of behaviors that may harm the environment. Check out the NYS Department of Conservation’s Watchable Wildlife guide if you’re wondering where to go or what you can see. Environmental education promotes engagement and can foster critical thinking about environmental solutions.
  • Become a Citizen Scientist. Citizen Scientist programs can help you learn about the environment while completing important scientific research. People of all skill levels can become citizen scientists to collect data and contribute to important environmental work.

Other Fun Park Activities

  • Have a picnic with local foods. Eating sustainably and locally supports New York’s agriculture and reduces emissions. Eating locally reduces food miles, or the distance it takes to transport food to your community. Fewer food miles means less polluting emissions. Be sure to avoid plastic waste by packing your lunch in reusable containers and using reusable water bottles. Don’t forget to clean up all your trash, as the park provides important habitats for New York’s wildlife!
  • Pay it forward. Dedicate some time to give back to the parks by volunteering through your local, state, or national parks! Cleaning up trails, organizing events, and caring for local ponds are important ways to help. You can also bring a trash bag and gloves on your own park trips to clean up any trash you see.
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