Just as last year’s BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico thrust a spotlight on environmental concerns, a massive oil spill off Santa Barbara, Calif., moved U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson to organize the first Earth Day in 1970. Back then, environmentalism was bipartisan (Nelson’s co-chair was Republican congressman Peter McCloskey), and 20 million Americans took part in Earth Day events nationwide. The groundswell led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
Today marks the 42nd Earth Day, and the event has gained such widespread acceptance that major retailers and beloved brands are getting in on the action. That’s not just good news for the environment, but for us consumers as well, since freebies and deep discounts abound. This week, Green Dad gathers the best Earth Day specials we could find that that will barely set you back a dime, though they will enhance your celebration of an event that reminds us just how precious and paramount our planet’s resources are.
1) Gratis java at Starbucks and Whole Foods.
If there’s one thing I love more than coffee, it’s free coffee — so thank the caffeine gods that Starbucks and Whole Foods are spreading the fresh-brewed love this Earth Day. At Starbucks, simply bring in your mug and they’ll fill it with fresh coffee or tea on the house; if you don’t have a mug, they’ll sell you one at 20% off. At Whole Foods coffee bars, free brew’s happening in the form of Rainforest Coffee or Earth Day Tea; check your local Whole Foods store for details.
2) Free shakes from EVOS and Elevation Burger.
If free coffee isn’t, um, your cup of tea, perhaps a free organic shake will do the trick. EVOS is offering up free shakes for Earth Day, and here’s a chain that devotes itself to serving All-American fare like burgers and fries in a way that’s healthy and sustainable, with locations in the Southeast. Elevation Burger, based mainly on the East Coast, has a similar philosophy (it serves grass-fed beef) and will give you the free shake, too — but you have to show your bike helmet as proof you pedaled your way to the burger joint.
3) Free trees at Lowe’s.
That’s correct; Lowe’s is giving away 1 million trees on Sat., April 23, to celebrate Earth Day today. Who can guess what trees planted on the first Earth Day look like today? Or, try imagining what your Lowe’s tree will look like 41 years from now. Also, check out these Earth Day sales on items, from Energy Star appliances to thermostats.
4) Skin care samples from Origins.
Earth Day’s all about getting clean, right? Stop by any Origins store with some cosmetic empties to recycle, and they’ll treat you to one of their best-selling paraben-free cleansers. For more details and to find a store near you, check out this page on the Origins website.
5) Tote bag twofer.
If you missed Target’s tote bag giveaway on April 17, fear not: Babies R Us will give you a free tote when you print and bring in this coupon. If you want to fill the tote with goodies, they’ll give you 25% off those, too. At the Disney Store, you’ll get a free shopping bag Friday when you bring in five plastic bags to recycle.
6) Free greenery and scenery at the National Parks.
The National Park Service is offering free admission at all of our 394 national parks now through April 25. The theme this year is “Healthy Parks, Healthy People,” and if you miss out now, mark down June 21 (the first day of summer) as the next free day offered by the Park Service.
7) Green and natural products, up to 60% off at Drugstore.com.
This Earth Day deal includes some of the more beloved natural and organic brands, including Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine and Pur Water Filters. You can save 41 percent on a 3-pack refill of Pur filters (normally $59) during this sale, where you pay just $35. What a great way to kick the bottled-water habit. You can also get big discounts at Soap.com on Earth Day bundles of things like Seventh Generation cleaning supplies, Scott Naturals products and PUR water filters.
8) Save 25% off on toiletries at Yestocarrots.com.
Just be sure to enter the code "EARTH" at checkout to get the discount. Yestocarrots produces a very popular line of natural products for face, body and hair care, along with SPF and baby care items as well.
9) Free green workshops at Home Depot.
In conjunction with Earth Day, Home Depot has a number of free workshops planned, ranging from a “Do-It-Herself” Workshop on eco-friendly gardening (April 21 and 23) to a Kids Workshop where children ages 5 to 12 get to make (and keep) an Easter planter basket. Check with your local Home Depot for details.