To mark Earth Day on April 22, ECOS requested information regarding how state agencies were celebrating. The association was impressed with the number and variety of original approaches reported via email and Twitter. Below is a list of the Top 10, in no particular order.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services launched a website, This is New Hampshire, on April 20 that uses a GIS application, story map, and crowdsourcing to provide the public with a place to share their photos on a map of the state. The criteria for the photos are broad: to show how people can enjoy NH’s environment, why they care about it, and what they are doing to keep it clean. The site is built around a map of the state with user photos linked to where they were taken. If you have photos from the ECOS 2010 Annual Meeting in Whitefield, New Hampshire or other trips there, share them on the website!
The Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Sustainable Practices (OSP) promoted awareness of food waste, radon, and the decline in bee populations at six Earth Day events this year. OSP distributed gift baskets filled with food waste awareness items such as preserve-ware and mixing bowls made from recycled plastic, a vegetable preservation Vejibag, and a vintage food waste poster. At some events, OSP also gave away compost bins to promote backyard composting.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality geared its weeklong Earth Day festivities towards its employees at the central and regional offices to encourage staff to protect the environment at home and work. For example, after spring cleaning of their offices, employees were asked to swap items they no longer need, donate them for reuse, and recycle everything else. The agency also hosted speakers on gardening, pollinator plants, and the importance of knowing what you can recycle, and showed lunchtime documentaries and organized public events throughout the state.
The DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) distributed pollinator plant seeds at 17 Metro stations across the District. In addition to encouraging residents to plant backyard habitats that enhance the survival of native pollinators like bees and butterflies, this year’s giveaway had an added special theme: DC Statehood. In support of the Bowser Administration’s efforts to make the District the nation’s 51st state, this year’s batch of DOEE pollinator plant seeds will bloom into red Eastern Columbine and white Calico Aster flowers, emblemizing the stars and bars of the DC flag. By growing pollinator plants, area residents can play a critical role in ensuring that the native pollinator population, an integral element of the District’s State Wildlife Action Plan, continues to crow.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and Westar Energy, hosted its fourth annual “Keep It Clean Kansas” state park cleanup event on Earth Day. Five state parks were selected for the volunteer event, organized in an effort to get communities involved in preserving the natural beauty of the state parks. Each year, Kansas selects different parks for cleanup, ensuring that every state park is cleaned on a five-year rotating basis.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ 23rd annual Earth Day 2017 event, held on the south lawn of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, offered a variety of fun and educational opportunities for students to learn more about how they can improve the world around them. This year’s theme was the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017, as the August 21 phenomenon will be the first total solar eclipse visible from Missouri in 148 years. A list of the educational resources can be found here.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards called on Pennsylvanians in an online video to “Pick it up, PA” and look for opportunities to participate in cleanup activities across the state. The agency sponsored a Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website with a list of cleanup activities for Earth Day and encouraged participants to share photos and information with a hashtag on social media.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management hosted several Earth Day events to encourage families to get outdoors and explore Rhode Island. Opportunities included birdwatching, a visit to a trout hatchery, and cleanups at state beaches, among others. The agency also created a “Pledge 5” campaign in which it encouraged citizens to make five small, impactful changes that contribute to a healthier planet by conserving water and energy, reducing waste, supporting local farms, and joining conservation efforts. Pledge 5 ideas are found here.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held its ninth annual Work*Play*Earth Day, a series of events in which volunteers, DNR staff, and communities repaired and enhanced 31 properties across the state. Activities included planting trees, installing benches, removing invasive plants, and cleaning up leaves and litter. When the work was done, volunteers joined staff in hiking or biking the park trails, visiting nature centers or interpretive displays, or enjoying recreational opportunities available at different properties.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) within the California Environmental Protection Agency promoted a wide variety of events this Earth Day. In addition to the dozens of location-specific activities posted on its webpage, the department encouraged citizens to be creative: take a pledge to reduce, reuse, and recycle, pick up drought-tolerant plants, host a zero-waste dinner party, calculate carbon footprints, and recycle household hazardous waste. The department also put together Your Essential Earth Day Playlist comprised of an eclectic mix of music to motivate citizens to rock the rally, festival, or other event nearest them. A full list of sustainable ideas can be found here. [Longsworth]