Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, Hudson Valley!

Today is the real 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Looking back across the past four decades, we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for:

Federal and state environmental laws and regulations that have seen massive cleanups of our waterways, air, drinking water and land; a movement of millions upon millions of people who have dedicated their thinking, actions and lifestyles to living more lightly on the earth; innovators who, without the impetus that came from increased awareness of the fragility of the planet and our need to live more sustainably, might never have dedicated their careers to creating cleaner-fueled cars, better mass transit, new consumer and industrial products and practices that are based on natural and organic ingredients instead of harsh and toxic chemicals. And the list goes one.

But as we honor the planet and those who have worked and are working so hard to slow, then halt humans' effect on our climate, and all that global warming portends, we all know, there is much, much more to do. In our personal lives. In our communities. For the region, the country, the globe. Our children, and their children to come.

Getting to "sustainability" in our lives, and here in the Hudson Valley is a journey. And whether you're already making positive environmental changes in your life, or haven't begun to really think about it, today and this week, and the entire year -- the lifetime we each have left -- is a great time to begin to make change. Some of us will make major alterations in our lifestyles; others will make small ones. No matter how small the steps are, they add up to major impacts in the aggregate.

Really. They do. I was listening recently to NPR and a segment came on about the impact of each person in the US not throwing just one, single-use water bottle into the trash (or on the side of the road). Recycling just that one per day. The amount of plastics saved from landfilling, and water pollution, animal deaths from ingesting parts or all of the bottles that would be prevented is absolutely staggering. It's in the millions and millions of tons.

And that's only one example of a small change we each can make. Turning down our thermostats a couple of degrees to save energy. Buying the food you like from local sources, whether it's organic, natural or simply grown nearby. Buying and using cleaning products that are environmentally preferable -- that is, based on less toxic ingredients -- and so improving your indoor air quality. Simple, effective, easy, AND it makes a difference.

If you don't know where to start, I humbly suggest that you come and spend part of the weekend with us at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25. It's only two days away, and it will be a GREAT place to learn about the simple ways that you can make your home, your community and our region (and yes, the planet!) a better, safer (environmentally speaking) place to live. AND you'll have a blast! We have SO many things to do, learn, see, listen to that you can't do it all in one day (not kidding).

Start by doing a REALLY feel-good (and responsible) thing, and turn in your old electronics at our Recyclrama in the Fairgrounds main parking lot. Bring your old computers, TVs, stereos, cell phones, wiring, and so on (read the older blog post on this blog, titled "Turn. It. In." for more information...) for $10 a CARLOAD. Advanced Recovery, Inc., our electronics recycling partner will give you a "Get Into The Earth Day Celebration Free" coupon for your effort. (and on Sunday, you can come back and get all your old personal documents shredded, securely by Hudson Baylor -- three, 10-reams-of-paper-sized boxes worth of your old checks, legal papers, love letters, embarrassing journals you wrote in your teens...for FREE!) Park and come in and spend the rest of the day...
  • Listening to Musicians for Clean Air concerts
  • Attending eco-presentations about everything from growing chickens in your backyard to composting to solar energy to fish advisories to true food diets
  • Buying local produce and goods at our Farmers Market
  • Watching (and tasting) organic/vegan/vegetarian food demos with some of the most talented chefs in the Hudson Valley
  • Taking a tai chi, Qigong or yoga class
  • Becoming a Maker and building/sewing/gluing new things out of other people's old ones
  • Visiting with some of the greenest companies in the Hudson Valley in our Green Exhibition Building (Bldg C)
  • Taking your kids (did I mention that this is a CHILD- and FAMILY-FRIENDLY event? It sure is!) to Kids' World, where they'll have over 20 activities to do and really cool stuff to see, including: Doc Swan's Environmental Magic Show; Big Green TV; environmental globe making; book readings and signings by children's authors (Saturday only); coloring contest; GPS Earthcaching treasure hunting; Solar cars; a bigger-than-they-are model green home buildout; recycling activities; pony rides; the two by two endangered animals petting zoo; fun with termites.
And, when you've utterly worn yourselves out, we have the most awesome feature film for you to see! "Earth Days," the nationally-acclaimed film by Robert Stone -- who lives right here in Dutchess County! -- will be playing at 3 p.m. each day. Introduced in person by... ROBERT STONE HIMSELF, and he'll answer your questions in person at the end of the movie. Last weekend, Robert was in Washington DC, on the mall, speaking while the organizers of that huge event showed parts of his movie. Well, you may not have been there, but THIS weekend, there is no place else on the entire planet where you can see the movie in its entirety AND talk to this incredibly talented (and delightful, if I may say from personal acquaintance with him) producer/director except HERE. At the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

What a way to end an Earth Day Celebration!

Want a full schedule? It's just a few blog posts back (see, "Mastering the Schedule" below).

Happy Earth Day everybody!!!

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