In 1970, no one knew that Earth Day would eventually become the largest celebration of our planet, but it did. From 20 million participants across the United States that first year, Earth Day is now celebrated in 192 countries with more than 1 billion participants advocating a more sustainable world.
Founded by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, this sustainability movement contributed to the passage of many laws protecting the environment.
If you missed that fateful April 22 event in 1970, you have several opportunities to join the celebration in 2019. It is possible to use the New Mexico Rail Runner Express to access some of these events scheduled both the Saturday before April 22 and the Saturday after.
April 20 Events
HAZARDOUS WASTE - Can you imagine 86,283 pounds of hazardous waste sitting around homes in Albuquerque? Believe it! That is the amount collected during Albuquerque’s Solid Waste Management Department’s two waste collection events held in 2018.
The division is holding its first Hazardous Waste Collection event this year between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on April 20. Toxins like automotive paint, oil and antifreeze, gasoline, cleaning supplies, and pesticides and herbicides are being accepted at Advanced Chemical Transport, 6137 Edith NE.
“It’s very important to dispose of household hazardous waste correctly,” says Diane Wikler, the Solid Waste Department’s marketing manager and public information officer. “This helps prevent these materials from going into the landfill and watersheds.”
Wikler says the agency has conducted this event for four years. The top three hazardous wastes are paint, oil and antifreeze, and empty oil cans with residue. Visit the city's household hazardous waste web page to learn more.
SEED FESTIVAL - The Albuquerque Botanic Garden will conduct its annual Earth Day Children’s Seed Festival on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is a family event for kids of all ages.
“We will talk about the parts of plants and the benefits of having plants around,” says Cheri Vogel, education curator at the Botanic Garden. Vogel says about 300 children attend the event annually, and the kids leave with seed balls, starter plants and booklets containing child-appropriate plant information.
The event is co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque BioPark, the umbrella organization for the Rio Grande Zoo, the Aquarium and the Botanic Garden. Those interested in taking transit to the Seed Festival can exit the Rail Runner at the Downtown Albuquerque Station and borrow a Pace ABQ Bike Share bike for a quick ride down to the BioPark, or hop on ABQ RIDE bus route 66 or 766 heading west and exit at Central and New York.
April 27 Events
PROTECT OUR SPECIES - Animal ambassadors, everything from wolves, raptors, goats and pollinating insects, will be showcased during the 2019 Earth Day celebration from noon to 4 p.m. at Santa Fe’s award-winning Railyard Park on April 27. The Park is a short walk from the Santa Fe Depot Rail Runner Station.
Rebecca D’Agostine, marketing director of the Railyard Park Conservancy, says this event follows the national theme of Protect Our Species. “It’s the perfect catalyst for us to focus on local ecology of plants, animals, birds and insects in Santa Fe and New Mexico,” she says.
Partnering with the Quivara Coalition, a range-management non-profit, the conservancy is offering a live grazing demonstration with goats and sheep. “The coalition’s experts will be on hand to explain the importance of restoring our grasslands,” D’Agostine says.
Visitors to this year’s celebration may learn how to grow pollinator gardens that help species like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Painted Lady Butterflies shown here.
Many other local organizations will create an educational, fun and kid-friendly event with workshops, live music, a costume-making station, and interactive games. Visit the Railyard Park Conservancy website to learn more.
GREAT AMERICAN RECYCLING EVENT - The Village of Los Lunas started its recycling program in 1995, and is encouraging everyone to recycle between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon on April 27 at 315 Don Pasqual. Joshua Chavez, assistant supervisor for the village’s Solid Waste Division, says Los Lunas makes between $30,000 and $50,000 every year through recycling cardboard and metals.
“The amount depends on the market,” Chavez says. Making money for the village is one of Los Lunas’ recycling goals. The others are protecting the environment and reducing landfill costs.
Chavez says Los Lunas also is sending two staff members to the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, 2424 NM 47, on April 27 to participate in that area’s Earth Day celebration. Visit the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area website for information on the event.
Sustainable Las Cruces
Earth Day in Las Cruces has been a cooperative endeavor since 1990. The Organization of Aggie Students Inspiring Sustainability (OASIS), managed the event for years, and now the city, Dona Ana County, New Mexico State University and the Green Chamber of Commerce are continuing the tradition on April 20 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Las Cruces Plaza.
“Our goal is to encourage local and sustainable practices,” says Lisa Larocque of the Las Cruces Sustainability Program. “The festival includes educational booths, cultural and musical presentations, a March for Science, a Recycle Fashion Show, local vegetarian food vendors and a zero-waste recycling center,” she says.
“’Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ is nature’s message for our Earth Day Festivals!” Larocque says.
Story and Photo by: Martin Frentzel