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Earth Day is Thursday, April 22. Here’s how we’ll be observing it here at Sunset.

Sunset Staff  – April 20, 2021

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Back to the Earth

Food Cycler

Courtesy of Vitamix

My husband is the kind of guy who tracks the wattage output of our solar panels on his phone and tries to sneak reusable swabs into my medicine cabinet (no- never- not happening). So to say “Earth Day is Every Day” in our house is an understatement. We are always trying to find ways to reduce waste and conserve resources. Composting has always been a touchy subject for me—not as touchy as those swabs, but close. It’s messy. It’s stinky. And sometimes it feels like more effort than it’s worth. About a month ago, we bought a game-changing Vitamix Food Cycler, which turns kitchen scraps into dry, odor-free fertilizer in a matter of hours. We toss veggie peels and neglected produce into the small, table-top machine at night, and take out a dry, nutrient rich soil amendment the next day. If you’ve been reluctant to jump on the compost train, too, this could be your ticket.  —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

Old Socks, New Dog Beds 

Woman Relaxing With Her Dachshund

Getty Images

I’m 100% guilty of bringing a small suitcase’s worth of socks I no longer wear—worn, mismatched, you name it —with me on each move I make. But this is the year I’m going to shed those socks and my storage unit while saying no to landfills as the only solution for items which have no resale value. Smartwool kicks off my personal goal with their Smartwool Second Cut Project and launches in time for Earth Day. Drop off your socks at participating retailers or request a recycling bag at Smartwool.com starting April 21, and watch your socks morph into filling for dog beds slated to be sold later this year. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor

A Hidden Corner of the Earth

Gifford Homestead Fruita Campground

Courtesy of Gifford Homestead

I have traveled to many places throughout the West and none have surprised me as much as Fruita Campground, in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. I hastily made a reservation while planning out a road trip across the West. I didn’t look into it much; I was just happy enough I found a place to sleep for the night. You spend hours driving through red rocks and endless canyons until you arrive upon this oasis in the desert. The campground was settled by Mormons in the late 1800s who planted seeds; those trees still stand today. It was incredible to discover orchards hidden in the middle of the desert. You can even walk through and pick the fruit yourself. Be wary of the deer that live throughout the site—you’ll catch them early in the morning snacking on fruit. The campground is hidden in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and is not far from one of my favorite hikes, which presents another oasis in the middle of the desert, this time in the form of a waterfall. I couldn’t think of a better place to highlight as we appreciate nature this Earth Day. —Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern

We’re All Connected

Swarm of Bees

Nicole Clausing

I am used to being knocked out by the majesty of nature, just not in my own neighborhood. But over the weekend I happened upon something pretty cool just a few nondescript suburban blocks from my own home: A swarm of honeybees. 

This sight isn’t that uncommon in the spring, when bees are often on the lookout for a new home. But it’s about the most exciting thing that’s happened around here since comet NEOWISE last summer, so I was delighted to be reminded that Mother Nature can still occupy even a tidily landscaped yard.

Beekeeping friends tell me the thing to do is to either leave them alone—they will probably find a new place in a day or so—or consult a local beekeeping guild, which can find someone to safely rehome the swam. As scary as the knot of insects looks, bees are very docile when they’re preoccupied with house hunting, so danger is minimal.

I’m geeking out about this find enough to share it with all of you, and in fact plan to make it my contribution to NASA’s #ConnectedbyEarth program. The space agency is encouraging people all over the world to share (and tag) images showing “the bit of Earth that connects you to our planet.” A week ago I would not have guessed there was anything locally worth sharing with the globe but now I’m excited to broadcast the news about this healthy little pod of pollinators in my neighborhood. If you’ve got a photo to share, use the hashtag #ConnectedbyEarth to remind us all how we’re linked—a good thing to keep in mind on Earth Day, and every day. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Thanking Our Wounded Warriors

National Park Access Pass

America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass

Earth Day is just another good occasion to remind veterans who have any confirmed service-connected disabilities that you’re eligible for a free lifetime access pass to all 63 of the country’s national parks and 2,000-plus recreation areas. 

The product of a partnership between the National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the lifetime access pass can be obtained online or via paper application for a mere $10 processing fee, as well as in person at any participating federal recreation site that issues passes. 

If taking the in-person route, all you have to do is present valid identification and sign an affidavit regarding your service-connected disability. (Bring any related documentation just to be safe.) 

With the pass, you and any passengers in your vehicle will have free admission to all of America’s greatest outdoor playgrounds, a benefit I became a direct recipient of two years ago after obtaining the pass at the southern gate of Zion National Park in an exchange that took exactly one minute. 

So, why put it off any longer? Get your pass today and get outside. —J.D. Simkins, staff writer

Travel the Earth Virtually

L.A. Arboretum

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens via LinkedIn

My favorite places to visit on Earth Day are botanic gardens, and with the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden in full bloom, it is a must-visit this Earth Week. The Arboretum sprawls over 127 acres with 33 separate sections showcasing plants from all over the world, including Australia, Madagascar, Chile, England, and more. The range of biodiversity allows for many animals to reside in the Arboretum, including spiny softshell turtles, Mandarin ducks, and wild peacocks, many of which wander the grounds. Be sure to check out the poppy bloom at the Crescent Farm, the exotic flowers at the Tropical Greenhouse, and the Australian plants in the Rainbow Serpent Garden to see the best the Arboretum has to offer. 

Make reservations and buy tickets here. —Navpreet Dhillon, editorial intern


Read the 2021 Gardening Issue

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