Americans have shown a growing interest in organic food, home gardening, health, fitness, recycling and eco-friendly products and services in recent years.
Last year’s turnout of more than 60,000 people for the St. Louis Earth Day Festival got organizers thinking, “Why not expand from one day to two?” So this year’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22 and 23 on The Muny Grounds at Forest Park.
“It’s just a way to bring everyone who wants to do something positive for the environment together in one place,” said Executive Director Jen Myerscough.
Activities range from live music to educational displays, yoga classes to drum circles, a climbing wall to vendor booths operated by local artisans, businesses and non-profits. Food and drink will include vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian choices.
“Seventy percent of all food vendors are certified by the Green Dining Alliance, while the remainder adhere to strict standards of sourcing, service and quality in line with Earth Day principles,” according to a press release.
For the first time, EarthDance Organic Farm School in Ferguson, Missouri, will offer free workshops at the festival, beginning on the hour.
It’s just a way to bring everyone who wants to do something positive for the environment together in one place.
Festival Executive Director Jen Myerscough
Experts will cover topics such as Composting 101, Container Gardening, Cooking with Herbs, Herbs as Medicine, Introduction to Beekeeping, Backyard Chickens, and Farm Fresh Eating on a Budget.
“People are becoming increasingly aware of the harmfulness of processed food and our over-industrialized food system and how it is affecting our bodies and the planet,” said Molly Rockamann, the farm’s founding director.
“They often feel disempowered with the options presented in stores. They want better options for their families, and certainly the best way to eat more organic food is to grow it yourself. It’s the most cost-effective way at least.”
Also this year, festival organizers are offering prizes to everyone who meets their challenge to ride public transit or bicycles and bring shopping bags and refillable water bottles.
“The idea is if they try it for just one day, they will see how easy it is and do it more often,” Myerscough said.
All festival vendors are required to use only recyclable and compostable serviceware as part of a Zero Waste initiative. Trash is sorted for recycling.
Certainly the best way to eat more organic food is to grow it yourself. It’s the most cost-effective way at least.
EarthDance Founding Director Molly Rockamann
“We’ve always been a very green company,” said John Elafros, Schlafly Tap Room manager. “Sustainability is very important to us. We recycle anything and everything we can.”
Earth Day is April 22. The first celebrations took place in 1970 at schools and in communities across the country, including one in St. Louis. The current festival started in 1990. Today, the unofficial holiday is observed all over the world.
Here are some other Earth Day events in the metro-east this weekend:
Glen Carbon Centennial Library
Glen Carbon Centennial Library invites the public to hear Katherine Daus speak on “The Benefits of Rain Barrels” at 6:30 p.m. April 20, learn how to save money, protect the environment and have a great-looking yard at the same time.
Then people can come back and celebrate Earth Day by watching Lowe’s workers install a rain-barrel system at 1 p.m. April 22 at the library. It will remain throughout the summer.
Registration is required for the Thursday night program by calling 618-288-1212, stopping by the front desk or visiting www.glencarbonlibrary.org.
St. Clair County Health Department
St. Clair County Health Department’s annual Earth Day Celebration will take place at 10 a.m. April 21 in the atrium at 19 Public Square in Belleville. Officials have been honoring local businesses, schools, communities and residents since 1995 for efforts to protect the environment.
On April 21, students will learn how to reduce, reuse and recycle, how to use worms to decompose organic food and how to wash their hands properly to avoid germs. They also will plant tomato seeds to take home.
People can get information on Illinois birds from Kaskaskia Valley Audubon Society members and water quality and testing from Illinois American Water’s Mobile Education Center. Other topics include carpooling, healthy eating, exercise and preventing stormwater pollution.
For more information, visit www.health.co.st-clair.il.us.
Lewis & Clark Community College
Lewis & Clark Community College’s Office of Sustainability, CJD E-Cycling and Riverbend Growth Association are hosting a community electronic-waste drive from 9 a.m. to noon April 21 and 22 in the Tolle Lane parking lot, across from the college’s Godfrey campus.
Illinois law prohibits landfill disposal of electronic devices, including TV sets and computers.
This weekend, most items will be accepted at no charge. For more information, contact Director of Sustainability Nate Keener at 618-468-2782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troop 40 and Village of Shiloh
Nilo-Tech E-cycling will accept appliances, batteries, TVs, computers, monitors, copiers, printers, cellphones, cables, stereo equipment, scanners and more. There will be no charge for most items.
For more information, call 314-696-2367 or email to email@example.com.
Edwardsville City Park
Booths will be operated by “green” breweries, restaurants and artists. Bands include Charlotte Street from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and The Robert Perry Band with the Original Mojos from 2 to 5 p.m. Surya Rakta Wellness will offer free yoga from 10 to 11 a.m.
Admission is free. Dogs welcome if on leashes. No outside beverages. For more information, call 866-336-2739 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford will hold an Earth Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22. Guides will give free tours, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will make bird feeders and representatives of TreeHouse Wildlife Center will bring animals.
The tower is at 435 Confluence Tower Drive, off Illinois 3. For more information, visit www.confluencetower.com or call 618- 251-9101.
Southwestern Illinois College
Southwestern Illinois College’s horticulture program will hold its annual plant sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22-24 in the greenhouse on the southeast corner of the Belleville campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave., behind the baseball fields.
Students will sell tropical, perennial and annual flowers, plants and herbs and a few water flowers and plants that they grew over the winter.
Only cash and check payments will be accepted. Proceeds benefit the horticulture program. For more information, call Program Coordinator Kurt Range at 618-235-2700, ext. 5135.
At a glance
- What: 28th annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival
- Where: The Muny grounds at Forest Park
- When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22 and 23
- Admission: Free
- Challenge: Ride public transit or a bicycle and bring your own shopping bag and refillable water bottle to get a prize
- Information: Visit www.stlouisearthday.org or contact Jen Myerscough at 314-458-5367 or email@example.com