The 24th annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival was held Sunday, April 21st at Forest Park on the Muny grounds from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. with special eco-art programming starting at 10 a.m. as preparation for the All Species Parade. The 2013 event featured traditional favorites like three stages of entertainment, and brought back popular programming from previous festivals, like a collection event for hard-to-recycle items and the Green Strum Project Band Scramble. Close to 40,000 people joined in the day’s celebration by experiencing hands-on activities for all ages and meeting the 237 local businesses and organizations that were showcasing their eco-friendly products and services.
For the 3rd year, in partnership with the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park Campus, we held the Recycling Extravaganza! collection event for hard-to-recycle items on the same day as the Festival. This year, 609 vehicles and 12 bicycles were unloaded and a wide variety of materials were collected by 25 organizations and businesses. Items that were diverted from area landfills were everything from mattresses and appliances to batteries and carpet. Fifteen-hundred pounds of expanded polystyrene, 62,846 lbs. of electronics and appliances, 260 lbs. of pharmaceuticals, and even 110 lbs. of Mardi Gras beads are just some of the 2013 Recycling Extravaganza’s amazing results.
One focus of the Festival is to educate and engage the community in ways to support a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and planet. Visitors were encouraged to use alternative methods of transportation to reduce the event’s environmental impact. The Metrolink station is only a half-mile from the festival, Trailnet offered free bike valet parking, and a free shuttle service from St. Louis Community College was made available. Over 2000 people made use of the shuttle and 300 bikes were parked at the festival. The Earth Day Challenge encouraged attendees to bring a reusable bag, refillable water bottle, or use alternative transportation to get to Forest Park in exchange for a prize like CFLs from Metro Lighting or Metro Transit day passes. About 1500 attendees participated in this activity.
Another part of educating individuals to live sustainably is the festival’s approach to handling waste. All food vendors have strict guidelines about using compostable or recyclable materials for serving food. All waste from the event is then sorted at Recycling Stations throughout the festival grounds with the help of many volunteers. Through recycling and composting, a majority of the waste produced at the Festival was diverted from the landfill, and edible food was donated to an area food bank. The total waste diversion by weight was 93.29% and by volume was 86.19%.
The Honorable Mayor Francis G. Slay of St. Louis joined local leaders in welcoming the community to explore opportunities for positive change. He also helped present our first ever class of Earth Day Action Grant recipients, who were recognized during the Festival Opening Ceremony. Thirty-four proposals were received for the first time micro-granting program, with a total request of $58,000. A committee of St. Louis Earth Day Board members, staff and partners awarded $12,080 to 18 very worthy recipients.
All Festival activities were free, including yoga, face painting, henna and an eco-art activity sponsored by the St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center – the “Great Green Re-Read Outside”. Over 500 books were given away at this activity. Many educational exhibitors were scattered throughout the grounds with a wide range of hands-on activities for kids and adults to engage in such as ecosystem models, role-playing games and creating something beautiful with ‘trash.’ A Metro bus was painted by festival participants, sponsored by USAgain with the artwork designed by Firecracker Press.
This great event couldn’t have happened without an army of 200 festival volunteers who together put in 725 hours of work. The beautiful spring weather also helped make this fantastic 2013 St. Louis Earth Day Festival a huge success. St. Louis Earth Day is a non-profit 501c3 organization whose mission is to make every day earth day by cultivating environmental stewardship and engaging individuals, governments, businesses, schools and the non-profit sector in celebration, education and action to support a healthy and sustainable future.
The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is grateful for the support and partnership of many local businesses, companies and organizations. This event was presented by Nature’s Own, Ameren Missouri and Metro Transit, and sponsored, in part, by Chipotle Mexican Grill, The City of St. Louis, KPLR 11/Fox 2, Missouri American Water, MO Department of Conservation, Schlafly Beer, USAgain, and Schnucks.