Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, 2743 Wimpole Ave., Knoxville, February 2016
The first Earth Day was celebrated April 22, 1970. With a focus on the environment and environmental action, it is widely accepted to mark the beginning of the modern environmental movement and much of our major national environmental legislation followed soon thereafter: The Clean Air Act (1970), The Clean Water Act (1972) and the Endangered Species Act (1973).
Celebrations of the day and the spirit behind it grew, became an international movement and eventually became the heartbeat of year-round environmental activism. As it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020, the movement is as important ever as the environmental issues we face become ever-more complex.
Locally, EarthFest the biggest annual commemoration of the day is held the Saturday before Earth Day, which falls on April 20, this Saturday. Previously held on the World’s Fair Park, the event has recently moved to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, where it will be held this year from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. This year marks its twentieth anniversary.
What you’ll find is a range of fun and educational activities all of which maintain a focus on the ultimate goal of improving and preserving the environment, or as they put it:
EarthFest is an annual Earth Day celebration with several green objectives: provide family-friendly (pets included) environmental education, support our sustainable local marketplace, showcase responsible environmental leadership, and demonstrate low- to zero-waste principles.
With an eye toward reuse and helping others, they will collect used eye glasses that day, in conjunction with the Smoky Mountain Lions Club. You’ll also find sewing activities, youth crafts, a recycled art show, electric vehicle demonstrations, paper-making, yoga, tours of the gardens, music all day and much more.
There is also a great opportunity to learn helpful environmentally friendly information in the “Ask An Expert” sessions. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about topics as wide ranging as permaculture, wolf behavior and sustainable fashion. There’s something for most anyone’s interest.
Also on Saturday and after the conclusion of EarthFest is a Jambalaya Cook-off at Crafty Bastard Brewery. What does this have to do with everything above? It benefits Beardsley Farm, which promotes sustainable urban farming practices. You can learn more about here.
But what about Earth Day, itself, you ask? Is there something you can do locally for the earth? Why, yes, there is. There are several worthy and fun activities tipping a hat to the significance of the day on Monday, April 22. You have an opportunity to recycle your professional clothes while helping those in need. You can attend a sustainable pairings dinner at Sunspot which benefits Legacy Parks.
Finally, DreamBikes and Bike Elf is hosting an all day Bike Drive and Sale. They are in need of donated bikes and offer many young people an opportunity to own a bike, learn about bike repairs and learn about business, while helping them continue their education after high school. If you aren’t ready to donate a bike, just yet, they are offering 25% off a bike tune-up that day and, just in case you need a bike, they are 25% off that day. Buying a new bike and starting to make some of your commutes by cycling would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day.