Friday, April 18, 2008

Earth Day event is all about ‘green’


For the South Coast Earth Day Festival 2008, the folks at the Community Environmental Council, which organizes the annual event, have come up with a twist on Teddy Roosevelt’s famous advice: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”
Roosevelt was talking about foreign policy, but for Earth Day, the suggestion is to forget the stick altogether – in fact, it’s good policy to leave nature well-enough alone – and just tread more lightly upon the planet.

“Reduce Your Eco-Footprint” is the theme for the Earth Day Festival, which takes place tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the County Courthouse Sunken Gardens. In a special tent easily located by following footprints temporarily posted on the ground, volunteers from The Sustainability Project will help visitors measure their demand on the Earth by using a bank of solar-powered computers. Experts will then assist you in creating a personal plan for maintaining or even enhancing your quality of life while reducing your impact on the planet’s resources.
The Eco-Footprint tent is just one of many special activities available during the festival, both educational and entertainment oriented.
The popular Green Car Show is back, featuring automobiles with technology that not all that long ago was considered unrealistically futuristic.
A highlight this year is a conversion kit that can turn a Toyota Prius – a hybrid car that already offers enviable gas mileage – into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, with a larger battery pack that simply plugs into a regular wall outlet and boosts the car’s efficiency to more than 100 mpg.
The show will also feature hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the latest models of cars that run on ethanol, compressed natural gas or biodiesel and fully electric vehicles. Representatives of UCSB’s “Fryer Oil to Fuel” program will explain how to make biodiesel from local waste.
Several sponsored booths will offer various free environmentally efficient products. CEC will give free reusable Chico bags to anyone to takes the “Get Energized” pledge, and the South Coast energy Efficiency Partnership (look for the big Edison flag) once again is handing out free compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use a fraction of the electricity of a normal incandescent bulb.
You can get lots of information about recycling programs – everything from yard waste to computers to household items – from such outfits as MarBorg Industries, 1-800-Got-Junk, and the City of Santa Barbara’s Environmental Services Department.
If you arrived at Earth Day via any means other than a private car – and note that MTD buses and shuttles are once again fare-free all day – you earn extra chances to win a free iPhone (with a solar-power charger to boot!), six pairs of free tickets on Amtrak’s Surfliner, MTD passes and other prizes given away hourly.
More than 150 different organizations – from Acorn Organics and Eco Dry Car Wash to Vespa Santa Barbara and WindowWorks Renewal – will have booths at the festival.
On the entertainment front, once again an entire day of musical performances take place on the solar powered stage. Performers range from the Vieja Valley elementary school choir to the storytelling troupe BOXTALES to singer-songwriter and Jack Johnson associate Todd Hannigan. The acoustic duo Fly to the Blue and slide guitar ensemble The Johnny Starlings will also appear, having won time slots at Earth Day’s Unplugged contest.
Meanwhile, children have Kids Area all to themselves, where they can use a stationary bike or hand-cranked generator to learn about electricity output, try on some Monarch butterfly wings, make a wind fan courtesy Art From Scrap, sample symphonic instruments at the KDB String Ensemble booth or bang on the bongos at Dancing Drum’s booth.

For details and a full schedule, visit

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