Durham Celebrating Earth Day this Sat., April 24

By Allie McCoy
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Dorothea Pierce, executive director of Keep Durham Beautiful, picks up three pieces of garbage every day. Although she admits that for some that may not sound like a big impact, for Pierce it is just one more way she is working to make a difference in Durham.

Just like this scene from last year's fest, the 2010 Durham Earth Day Festival will again be operating as a Zero Waste Project, with all vendors using only recyclable materials at the event. (Photo courtesy of Dorothea Pierce)

“Think how amazing it would be if everyone in Durham did the same,” Pierce said. “It is the little ripples that get out and make a difference. That is the way change happens.”

Keep Durham Beautiful will be partnering with Durham Parks and Recreation again this year for the 2010 Durham Earth Day Festival on April 24 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the CCB Plaza in downtown Durham.

Keep Durham Beautiful is a non-profit, volunteer organization working to bring Durham together to conserve and enhance the environment and appearance of Durham County. It operates under the national organization, Keep America Beautiful, which has more than 500 local-level affiliates – 36 of which are in North Carolina.

The festival, now in its 11th year, will host various performance groups, vendors and children’s activities, said Amber Rudisill, special events coordinator at Durham Parks and Recreation.

National recording artist, Someone’s Sister, will participate along with local performers Different Drum and the Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers Band.

“The big thing this year is we’ve teamed up with Sonoco Recycling to bring in an e-waste truck and host a shred-a-thon,” said Rudisill. “People can bring their old electronics to be recycled and documents to be shredded.”

The festival will also be a Zero Waste Project, meaning every disposable item at the festival – from straws to plates – will be recyclable, said Rudisill. Garbage bins will be covered and recycling stations will be set up in their place.

“Even food vendors have been asked to take any non-recyclable items with them when they leave,” said Rudisill. “We’re trying to make this a very sustainable event.”

The Durham Earth Day Festival parade will again feature local performers (as in this scene from last year's fest). This year children will have the opportunity to participate after making instruments with Music Explorium. (Photo courtesy of Dorothea Pierce)

Transportation to the festival will also focus on sustainability. Durham Area Transit Authority is sponsoring “Free Bus Day” in conjunction with the event where everyone may ride the bus for free, according to Pierce.

A bike valet will also be available, courtesy of the Durham Bike Co-Op, who will also offer free bike repairs and tune-ups throughout the day.

“People are encouraged to walk, ride a bike and take the bus,” said Pierce.

Activities for the children will also be set up, including a station sponsored by local organization, Music Explorium, where children will be able to make instruments for the Earth Day Festival parade, said Rudisill.

“The thing that always gets me about Earth Day is that we have something for every age – even Grandma,” said Pierce. “No matter your age, there is something you will enjoy at this festival.”

For Pierce, the Earth Day Festival is a time to focus on the positive environmental happenings in the Durham community.

“We rarely talk about what we’re doing right and I think people need to see it,” she said. “Everyone is so cheerful on Earth Day, the energy is so positive at the festival. That is the whole point, we’re supposed to be celebrating! It isn’t about getting them out here and beating them with a stick, but say ‘look what good we’ve already done, let’s celebrate.’”