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A day for Earth

Build plant pots, share a potluck dinner, enjoy a nature walk for Earth Day

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Spring has sprung in at least some parts of the Sea to Sky — all the trees burst into bud last weekend in Pemberton, crocuses are poking up their heads, and there have even been a few T-shirt BBQ days. So the time seems ripe to celebrate Earth Day this April 22.

Earth Day dates back to 1970, when San Francisco (whose name comes from Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment) started the festivities on March 21, the first day of spring.

This served as a warm-up for the "environmental teach-in" created by a U.S. senator on April 22: about 20 million Americans participated, and some credit this as the start of the modern environmental movement.

The press preferred the term "Earth Day," and that's what stuck. By 1990 it had gone international.

Locally, there are only a couple of formally organized options this Earth Day. Britannia Mines is hosting a "plant a seed" event twice a day all week, along with a noon-time talk on historical, small-scale hydropower at the site on Tuesday and Thursday (see http://www.bcmm.ca/). Included in the normal price of admission, kids of all ages can come in and learn how to make a plant pot out of newspaper — a nifty recycling trick — and plant vegetable seeds in it to take home.

"It's pretty amazing," said Scott Kerr, who is organizing the event, about the pots.

"You just fold the newspaper up into a box. It holds up amazingly well even when it gets wet. And then you can plant the whole thing in the ground and it decomposes." The idea is inspired by the early days of Britannia's history, when locals were without road or rail and had to be as self-sufficient for food as possible. Some even grew their own hops for beer.

In Pemberton, Earth Day will be celebrated with a litter pick-up party and BBQ at the community centre. They're also collecting e-waste for recycling, and old unwanted bikes to ship to Uganda as part of the Bicycles for Humanity project.

AWARE's Kids Nature Club will also be focusing on Earth Day at its monthly meeting at the Whistler Public Library on April 29 at 10 a.m.

For the grown-ups, AWARE is suggesting taking part in Whistler Watch and Earthsave's movie screening of On the Line and a potluck dinner. Go to <http://earthsavewhistler.com/events>; to find out more.

For Whistler, Earth Day usually comes inconveniently close to the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (this year it overlaps with that Festival's closing day), so they tend to have an "Enviro-fest" some other time, usually around the time of the June 5 UN World Environment Day.

For 2012, one tentative schedule has Enviro-fest proposed for September 22. The date is close to "Earth Overshoot Day," the day estimated by the Global Footprint Network to be roughly the day of the year after which humanity's demands on nature exceeds the planet's ability to replenish it all, or the day after which we start "living beyond our means.

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