Monday, April 18, 2011

This Week I Will Participate In An Earth Day Event

A couple of months ago I was asked to develop an activity to demonstrate the benefits of being a locavore for my city’s local Earth Day event. This was pretty exciting to me, especially since it’s only been a half a year since I decided I really needed to do something about climate change other than worry and started this blog. Since this was to be a family event, my plan was to motivate kids to eat local foods – and maybe inspire a few grown ups along the way, too. The original plan was to show a side-by-side comparison of local versus imported cherry tomatoes. I would show the environmental costs of buying Chilean tomatoes, buying farmer’s market tomatoes and tomatoes grown at home to create a concrete example of what we save by eating locally. However, while I really liked this idea and so did the city’s sustainability manager, I ended up helping at the sustainability manager’s booth - which turned out to be a great opportunity for a newbie advocate like myself. (Though, if anyone wants to do the cherry tomato math, I promise to use the data!)

The Family Earth Festival was Saturday. And what a gorgeous day it was, just the kind of day that brings people to northern California. And makes us want to preserve what we love about where we live. A perfect day for an Earth festival. It was really informative to me because I got to be on both sides of the booth. I got to tell people about how to be more environmentally conscious and I got to walk around hear what others could teach me. It was also really interesting to me to see who came to the festival and where they were as far as climate change issues.

We asked people to make one commitment toward sustainability and we heard every thing from “I’ll recycle my cans” to “I’m planning to go 100% solar”. Most people were more like me and committed to riding bikes more, not use throw-away bottles, buy more local food. Surprisingly, young children often said they would clean up litter. I guess they’re being taught to make the planet cleaner by picking up trash. We told them that’s great as long as trash goes in the right containers so it can be recycled and gave them 100% reclaimed materials wrist bands. There were many teens around, too. They surprised me in a different way. Many of the teens at the Earth Festival were part of their high school environmental clubs. They had already made so many positive changes it was hard for them to come up with a new sustainability commitment. This was so reassuring!

When I left my booth and walked around to other booths I learned many things from the gardeners, environmentalists, naturalists and even utility representatives. A few of the tidbits that got my attention were:

  • That a worm bin doesn’t have to stink. The one the worm farmer brought actually smelled pretty earthy and good. However, you probably will get a lot of fruit flies, which he told me are harmless to your garden.

  • That depending on the variety, you can grow an oak tree 30 feet in only ten years. Gardeners were giving away three varieties of young oaks that grow well in my area.

  • That the water department gives out little tablets to drop in your toilet tank to see if it leaks (into the bowl) – which is apparently a huge source of wasted fresh water. The also had attractive drought tolerant plants on display to show your yard doesn’t have to look like a desert, even in this arid region.

  • That the City of Pleasanton, where I live, has a program in which trained 15-22 year-olds come to your home and do a sustainability and energy assessment – for free. They also do simple jobs like replacing all your incandescent bulbs and installing a retractable clothesline and they make recommendations for bigger projects you can choose to do.

I really appreciated the opportunity to participate in this event. I strongly urge you to take advantage of the Earth Day activities offered by your city. You never know what you might find there!

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22nd

Earth Day Info

Earth Day events and activities through the Nature Conservancy

“Tikkun Olam” means, in its most basic form, repairing the world. It is an ancient term from long before we worried about carbon emissions or mercury in our fish. It promotes the idea that we are the stewards of our planet and we that must be constant and vigilant in our responsibility. And not only must we take care of the Earth and seas and creatures, but we have to fix what is broken. And this is our job for as long as we are on this planet.

1 comment:

  1. Rhonda,
    Thank you SO much for your help! There was so much AMAZING information available. The library folks (somehow) "count" the visitors, and they've estimated that over 700 people attended the festival. ~ Laura