Time to give Mother Nature a big high-five by attending a quaint little Earth Day festival in your neck of the woods. What better way to enjoy the great outdoors while people watching; plus, organizers are going to pull out all the green stops like they always do. You have to love those eco-friendly touches, such as large albeit empty recycling bins placed prominently throughout the site (while garbage cans overflow with materials that really shouldn’t be landfilled), vendors hawking squeaky-green petroleum-based products sheathed in plastic, planet-friendly eats (mmm, the humanely raised Tofurky legs skewered on fallen twigs are well worth the $8 price tag!) and finally, a legitimately sustainable way to wash it all down: reclaimed municipal water poured into empty plastic beverage bottles gleaned from local landfills. You cracked a little smile, didn’t you? All kidding aside, there’s a shade of truth to the whole warm and fuzzy yet not exactly legitimately green behavior that plays out at typical Earth Day gatherings across the nation. Commemorating nature really shouldn’t be about consumerism and consumption, because, frankly, that’s what has gotten us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, when we all come together to give props to Gaia, we typically end up milling around a specific outdoor site with visions of nifty new stuff and tasty festival fare dancing in our heads. What’s missing from this picture? Oh, right: an actual appreciation for the trees, grass, sky and simple majesty of it all. Meanwhile, the 364 remaining days of the year, we revert back to our normal lives, conveniently forgetting that Mother Nature really does need us to pitch in on a full-time basis. If you’re one of those well-intentioned individuals who recognizes that you can easily step up to the eco-plate a little more than you already do, here are a few friendly reminders that should help you to keep the green spirit going strong through every season, and for every reason:

Embrace that Earth Day Feeling

On the surface, green living is typically perceived as a radical way of cutting back on all of the creature comforts that we all know and love. Those “in the know” recognize, however, that going green is secret code for saving big bucks. Whether you make your own natural, chemical-free household cleaners, bike more/drive less or refashion vintage duds rather than buying new fashion pieces, you’ll almost always come out ahead with a fatter wallet.

Never ever throw out when you can donate or recycle

Sure, you may think that the dilapidated item that you’re about to swiftly kick to the curb is undesirable, but one man’s trash is most certainly another man’s treasure. Take the extra time to drive it to a donation center, post it on Craigslist or Freecycle or give it to an eager crafty DIY beaver who will transform it into an impossibly fantastic masterpiece. If it keeps your junk out of the landfill a little while longer, isn’t it worth letting someone else have dibs?

Streamline the amount of household waste that you produce

Some people are blessed with seriously comprehensive municipal curbside recycling programs that make the most of every conceivable material, and then there are the rest of us who literally have to go out of our way to do the right thing. It may be awfully tempting to chuck and run, but here are some far better options to explore (which will end up making your weekly garbage haul a lot lighter): precycle before you buy, get crafty with your kiddies, donate materials to a local primary school or TerraCycle, visit Whole Foods so you can use its CorkReHarvest and Preserve Gimme 5 recycling collection bins and if all else fails, see if Recyclebank serves your area!

Participate/volunteer in local eco-themed activities

Earth Day may come and go, but the rest of the year, you can still cultivate a deep affinity for the environment in your own heart (and that of the rest of your family) by making a regular date to get involved in local environmental activities. Help reforest a national park. Clean up a shoreline. Offer your assistance to an animal rescue and adoption society. Step away from the couch and get involved in the real world right outside your window!

Challenge family members to achieve new green heights

“Do we have to?!” might be the typical refrain moaned by family members when you ask them to green up their act, but you’ll hear a different tune altogether when you dangle a carrot from a stick. In so many cases, doing the right green thing comes with a lovely financial reward, whether you recycle beauty packaging, empty printer ink cartridges, cell phones, clothing or even trim the amount of household energy you use thanks to My Emissions Exchange. You can even reward everyone for a job well done by using the money you’ve all collectively earned on something fun, like an all-organic picnic.

Maintain motivation, if not for yourself, then for the little ones

Children ultimately inherit the earth, so every effort that we make now to be upstanding environmental stewards adds to the bottom line. Even if you don’t personally have little ones, it’s safe to say that someone in your immediate circle — a sister, brother, best friend or close colleague — does. What you do every day for the rest of your life ultimately creates a legacy that can make or break their future, and don’t they deserve to experience all of the hope and pure innocence that you did all those years ago? The pure and simple answer is yes.