St. Louis Earth Day 2011 Wanted: 6.9 Billion Agents of Change

Learn more and apply in person 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 17th at Forest Park on the Muny grounds

by Cassie Phillips, St. Louis Earth Day Executive Director

By now we all know that Earth Day is not just one day of the year – it’s every day that we make an effort to live more lightly on the Earth. What started as a small, grassroots effort to bring environmental consciousness into mainstream awareness has grown in scale, having significant impact throughout the year. It is apparent that individual acts of carelessness, selfishness and even naivety are responsible for the large-scale environmental disaster we are beginning to experience. It stands to reason that if we’ve destroyed the planet with individual acts, that we can curve the trend and work to undo the damage with everyday acts of consciousness. I believe that Earth Day is an opportunity to inform and empower the masses to make good decisions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, that have a tremendous impact when performed collectively.
Consider challenging yourself and your family, friends and co-workers to make a couple of commitments this Earth Day—think of it as a New Year’s resolution that you will actually keep! Maybe you will walk your kids to school two days a week, or you will ride your bike five times a month, or maybe you will remember to use your own shopping bags instead of plastic, most of the time. These are small things that might take some extra time to consider at first, but will soon become part of your normal routine.

The impact of little changes will grow as your neighbor sees you walking your children to school and decides to join you. Not only will you save two car trips to the school, but you have made a friend and strengthened your community in the process. Maybe if you can’t make the walk one week, your neighbor can take both kids to school. When you lead by example, there is no limit to the influence of your actions.

We have seen this at play on a global scale: A perceived demand from customers has recently led Walmart to ban all milk that is produced by cows receiving artificial growth hormones in all of their U.S. locations. This move was based on the perceived demand of Walmart customers. In the recent past, all of the fast food chains serve their burgers in Styrofoam clamshells until there was a perceived demand from customers to find a different way of serving food that was more environmentally responsible. There are many examples where people changed their buying habitats to reflect their values and previously unmovable forces were compelled to change.
With all of this in mind, we chose “Be the Change” as the theme for the 22nd Annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival—stemming from a quotation by one of India’s greatest and most well-know thinkers, Mohatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” In any context, these are empowering words to live by.

We encourage St. Louisians and our regional community to join us at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park for a day of deliberate celebration and learning. The Festival showcases 200+ vendors and exhibitors who offer products and services that enable a more sustainable lifestyle. Educational activities for kids and adults are present throughout the event, including Ameren Missouri’s energy efficiency and conservation exhibit. Attendees can also pack a picnic blanket and enjoy three stages of live music and cultural performances, local food and beer, and hands-on activities for the whole family, including dogs!

When you come to the Festival, we challenge you to Be the Change by biking, walking, carpooling or riding the Metro. Bring your own reusable shopping bags and refillable water bottle (we will have refill stations on site). If you do two of these three things, we will give you a prize at the information booth. If you incorporate any of these good habits into your daily behaviour, then we ALL win with a cleaner and healthier environment!

We invite you to document your commitment to Be the Change at the Festival. Goodeye Photoshare will have a photo booth, near the information tent, where you can create a sign or use props to communicate your goals for “change” in your picture. After the event, we will post a slide-show online to memorialize the occasion. The national tour of the Green Living Project will also be onsite to interview people about their Earth Day commitments on film.

One way to Be the Change on April 17th is by joining in the Operation Wild Lands trash pick-up. Every year, The Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region hosts a clean-up in Forest Park the morning of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival. It’s a great way to kick-off a day-long celebration of the Earth: Meet in the lower Muny parking lot, off Theatre Drive, at 9 a.m.—gloves and light refreshments will be provided.

This year, we’ve organized an opportunity for you to safely dispose of hard-to-recycle items, like household appliances, computers, televisions, mattresses, bicycles, bubble wrap, Stryofoam and much more. The Earth Day Recycling Extravaganza will be accepting your spring cleaning debris from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the St. Louis Community College Forest Park campus parking lot, off Oakland Ave. Over a dozen non-profit organizations and recycling companies will be accepting items—visit our website for a comprehensive list of partners and items that will be collected.
If you are looking to Be the Change through service, consider volunteering for the Festival. Our event has become the largest in the Midwest thanks to the support of over 250 volunteers who help us host this event each year. There are also many opportunities to volunteer with other area non-profits throughout the year, and you can find out about those opportunities at the Festival. Visit our online Community Events Calendar where we post events and volunteer opportunities with our partner organizations year-round.

We hope that you will join us in our mission to engage the community and challenge all people to embrace the small things that we can all do to make a difference in the future wellbeing of our shared home.

Please visit our website for information: www.stlouisearthday.org.

The Healthy Planet does not endorse any information contained in articles, advertisements or directory listings and we suggest consulting a health care professional before beginning any therapy or medical treatment.