The 41st annual Earth Day takes place this year on Friday, April 22, an almost eerily spot-on, one-year anniversary to the BP oil spill that continues to devastate the Gulf of Mexico today.
It’s an interesting, albeit tragic, parallel to the roots of the initial, official Earth Day holiday in the US, which was first celebrated in 1970 in the wake of one of the most memorable and disastrous offshore oil spills in the nation, the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969.
The Santa Barbara oil spill shook the nation much like the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and in the year following the spill, the environmental movement began to take shape more than ever before. Then, on the very first, official Earth Day celebration in 1970, an impressive force to be reckoned with of over 20 million people strong let it be known loud and clear that the environmental movement was here to stay.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world, and in a growing number of US schools, Earth Day is the third largest celebrated holiday of the school year. And while many of us in the green industry and movement have deemed all of April ‘Earth Month’, the Santa Cruz Earth Day Festival aims to be the best all-around environmental event of the year here in the Cruz.
The Santa Cruz Earth Day Festival takes place on Saturday, April 16th, from 11am-4pm, in the San Lorenzo Park Benchlands in downtown Santa Cruz (Benchlands refers to the area of the park behind the County Building).
New this year for festival goers are the educational workshops happening in the new Workshop Tent. Here’s a quick glance at the Workshop Tent schedule, and my two top-picks for workshops you won’t want to miss:
11 a.m. & 3 p.m., Composting Workshop: Learn how to turn your food scraps and green waste into compost for the garden. Unincorporated Santa Cruz County residents even receive a voucher for a free compost or worm bin!
2 p.m., Graywater in Your Home: Don’t let the lifting of official drought status fool you - water conservation is an absolute must here on the Central Coast, which is why many Santa Cruzians have gone graywater. This workshop will inform you how to use your graywater from the laundry, shower, and bathroom sink for irrigation in your yard and gardens.
Other workshops include the 12 p.m. Green Building Basics workshop, and the Earth-Friendly Eating workshop at 1 p.m.
More than any other holiday, Earth Day is the Take Action holiday. It’s your time to make a positive change for the environment, and these two volunteer opportunities coinciding with the Santa Cruz Earth Day Festival provide just the hands-on volunteerism you’ll need to have a successful Earth Day this year.
Volunteer at the San Lorenzo River Cleanup from 11am-1pm on Saturday, April 16. All you have to do is meet Save Our Shores at their volunteer check-in table near Water Street Bridge in San Lorenzo Park, roll up your sleeves, and give the earth a helping hand for Earth Day.
You can also volunteer at the Cowell/Main Beach Cleanup that same day from 10am-Noon, just check-in on Cowell Beach to the right of the Santa Cruz Wharf.
Other Santa Cruz Earth Day Festival highlights include educational opportunities, an arts and crafts tent, and live music catered to the kiddos, sustainable grub, free eMotion Pedicab rides from the festival to downtown, a solar-powered stage, and a raffle to win the new “fortwo” car from New Leaf and Smart Chicken.
Get your green on at the 2011 Santa Cruz Earth Day Festival! We'll see you there.