On Monday, Myra wrote a lovely post about the origins of Earth Day, including how it “started with one person, who had one idea”. Today, I want to add a little bit more about how one person (or in this case two people) with one idea can make a difference locally. Over this past weekend, a friend and I, with the help of several community volunteers, organized three days of earth day activities focusing on not just celebrating the day, but also educating people and encouraging them to get involved on a local level.
We started with an event designed to bring out families – an evening lantern parade, with lanterns made from recycled cardboard boxes by neighborhood children. Due to the warm winter, our local Farmer’s Market was able to open a few weeks early, on the same day. It was quite a celebration!
For the second day, we focused on Education, with speakers from local biodiesel makers, an alternative fuel vehicle show, a seed swap, bike co-op, tours of our local park and community garden, talks on organic growing practices and composting, and even a “green” story hour courtesy our local library.
While all that was going on, we also held a recycling drop off, a clothing swap, and a Freecycling event of epic proportions.
Finally, on the last day, we encouraged our neighbors to Participate in making our little corner a better place. Neighbors came out with gloves and shovels to plant flowers, pick up litter, and paint over ugly graffiti tags.
By the time the weekend was over, we recycled 4 truckloads of electronics, a truckload of tires, a truckload of paint (which was donated to Living Walls, an international mural project) a file box of CFL bulbs, another file box of batteries, and a third box of printer cartridges. We also collected close to 100 cellphones for donation to those in need and about 2 dozen pairs of eyeglasses for re-use.
We collected 5 huge boxes of books for our local library, and we FreeCycled an amazing amount of clothing and cool stuff. (all our leftovers were donated to charity or to a local crafty re-use organization). It was a wonderful weekend of getting to know our neighbors, and of small things adding up to something meaningful. We plan to do it again every year, and if anyone would like more details on how to organize something like this in your area, please feel free to contact me.