On April 26-27th, more than 35,000 people celebrated Earth Day in Santa Barbara’s Alameda Park with live music, hundreds of booths and displays, and a strong spirit of conservation. Over 2,000 people rode their bikes to the festival and volunteers from Bici Centro offered valet parking service for cyclists. Kids played while simultaneously learning how to garden, and parents enjoyed fresh farm-to-table food and drink. As the weekend unfolded people explored hundreds of booths in the eco-marketplace, which included a green car show and exhibits showcasing local organizations.
Today, Alameda Park is comparatively calm with its typical handful of folks leisurely strolling or picnicking. The 37,364 Earth Day visitors have come and gone; yet hopefully they now live with a changed perspective and better grasp of their important roles in protecting and cultivating the environment we all enjoy so much.
In our consumerist society, many overlook the necessity of investing in our environmental infrastructure and not just in Wall Street. It’s too easy to fall into habits that drain unsustainable resources and wreak havoc on ecosystems. Santa Barbarians should know this better than anyone, as we can see the immediate effects of garbage, pollution, etc. in both our front and back yards. In fact, Earth Day started in 1969 when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the devastating oil spill here in the Santa Barbara Channel. Though the festival presence has been strong here ever since that disaster, environmental problems remain significant issues.
The truth is that caring for the environment must occur with daily habits and lifestyle choices, not just a fun festival once a year.
Those who love the outdoors perhaps know this best. Outdoor enthusiasts and athletes have been blazing trails, so to speak, in conservation efforts since guys like John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt first created National Parks in the early 20 th Century. Little is different today as the people who know how to enjoy natural beauty are the ones investing their time and resources in protecting that natural beauty with trail conservation groups, trash cleanup, and local politicking. Starting May 14 th , Santa Barbara will ban plastic bags in grocery stores and replace them with reusable shopping bags, a movement that has been championed by the Santa Barbara Channel Keeper for the last six years.
Now that the Earth Day hype has passed, think about how your role as a caretaker for the environment should be as habitual and enjoyable as your enjoyment of the environment. To make doing your part simpler, the Community Environmental Council has outlined five pillars of environmental care: Drive Less, Choose Electric, Go Solar, Ditch Plastic, Eat Local. Ride your mountain bike once a week. Consider working with the Trail Volunteers once every couple weeks and bike to work as well. Do your part to live with the Earth Day ethos every day.