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March/April 2020

The very first Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. Twenty million Americans participated, which at the time, represented ten percent of the country’s entire population. This monumental day sparked environmental action worldwide, and led to the establishment of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Earth Day is now recognized globally as the planet’s most significant civic engagement event each year. This year, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be marked by tens of thousands of rallies and community events in every country across the world.

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is presented by the nonprofit organization earthday365, and was first held in 1989, organized by a group of engaged citizens. Today, the event is verified by Earth Day Network as one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in the country.

Because the original dates (April 25-26) had to be cancelled due to the prohibition of gatherings of over 10 people, this year’s Festival will be held Sunday, October 18 in Tower Grove Park. Free and open to the public, the event aims to educate and empower the regional community for greater action toward a more sustainable future.

Earth Day 365 is hosting a virtual Earth Day the week of April 18-26. The online event features speakers, crafters, musicians, yoga and meditation, story time for the kids and virtual tours of the Crown Ridge Tiger Santcuary and St Louis Aquarium. Visit https://earthday365.salsalabs.org/march2020 or email info@earthday-365.org to learn more.

The Festival provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about sustainable products and services offered by local businesses and meet nonprofits working in areas like nature, public health, and social justice. There are also plenty of opportunities for the entire family to enjoy their weekend in the park – with plenty of hands-on activities, classes from Yoga Buzz, entertainment, and good food and drinks.

 

All food vendors at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival are certified by earthday365’s restaurant sustainability certification program, the Green Dining Alliance. Certified restaurants are required to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by participating in annual audits and incorporating core concepts such as recycling, banning styrofoam, and phasing in energy efficient light bulbs and equipment.

Festival attendees can take part in the #EarthDayChallenge that is comprised of three main components:

Visitors are encouraged to use alternative transportation in getting to the event – like taking the Metro train or buses, riding a bike, and at the very least – carpooling with neighbors and friends! Part of the #EarthDayChallenge – Festival visitors are challenged to use alternative transport, in addition to bringing their own refillable water bottle and bags for shopping.

Whether or not residents of the region make it out to the St. Louis Earth Day Festival this year, everyone can make an impact by participating in the Earth Day Network’s “Canopy Project.” In partnership with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, earthday365 is encouraging tree planting as a way to observe the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

In the coming year, Earth Day Network has a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees — one tree for every person on earth — in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Forest ReLeaf of Missouri has produced a special tracking technology called “PlantMOreTrees,” which will link St. Louis with the rest of the globe in its race to combat Climate Change.

Forest ReLeaf of Missouri’s website includes information about native tree species, where to obtain them, and when and how to plant the trees. After you’re done, go to PlantMOreTrees to enter the planting information and be counted.

earthday365’s mission is to “empower you and your community to create and celebrate a greener St. Louis – every day.” In addition to producing the St. Louis Earth Day Festival, this mission is accomplished through the organization’s year-round programming like the Green Dining Alliance described above, and also Recycling On the Go – a program which works with events throughout the region to green their options through planning for and implementing waste diversion strategies like recycling and composting.

To learn more about earthday365, its programs, and the St. Louis Earth Day Festival, visit www.earthday-365.org.

Lucy Knapp is the editor of the St. Louis / St. Charles Women's Journal.

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