Home ‘We can’t recycle our way out’: Earth Day Staunton returns to Gypsy Hill Park April 20

‘We can’t recycle our way out’: Earth Day Staunton returns to Gypsy Hill Park April 20

Courtesy of Earth Day Staunton.

Globally, approximately 2 million plastic bags are used per minute with an average total time used of 12 minutes, and approximately a million plastic bottles are purchased each minute.

Only approximately 9 percent of plastic is recycled. The rest breaks down into microplastics in the environment. The massive amounts of plastic pollution humans create injure and kill wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, threatening our food chain.

Earth Day Staunton’s theme of 2024, “STOP the Plastic Tidal Wave!”, aims to raise awareness about the role of plastic in ocean pollution, human health and climate change.

Earth Day Staunton returns to Gypsy Hill Park Bandstand area on Saturday, April 20, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In case of rain, Earth Day will be held at Gypsy Hill Park Gym.

“We can’t recycle our way out of this problem,” Caroline Sheridan. co-chair for Shenandoah Green’s Earth Day Staunton, said. “The only solution is to stop the continuing flood of plastic being pumped out by the oil industry.”

Shenandoah Green’s life-size whale sculpture, Flippy, is featured in this year’s logo saying, “STOP the Plastic Tidal Wave!” Flippy is the mascot for this year’s Earth Day.

Flippy visits area schools and events teaching students about how our plastic pollution impacts the ocean. Children bring plastic from home and put it inside Flippy to illustrate that plastic waste is being eaten by wildlife. A recent study by Earth Island Institute found that more than 300,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales die every year when their stomachs are filled with plastic mistaken for prey or they get entangled in fishing gear.

“Flippy is a wonderful ambassador spreading the word about plastic pollution. Flippy was created to replicate a same-sized juvenile whale who died in 2019 with 88 pounds of plastic in his stomach,” Georgi Tomisato, co-chair of Earth Day Staunton, said. “If we all work to reduce the amount of plastic we use, and ask stores and restaurants to as well, we can make a big difference.”

Dozens of exhibitors at Earth Day Staunton will provide hands-on, educational activities about nature and the environment. The Wildlife Center of Virginia will provide its annual wildlife programs. Other highlights include a live beehive exhibit, electric cars on display and the Underground Classroom trailer.

Attendees will learn about everyday S.W.A.P.s (Save Whales, Avoid Plastic) such as using reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.

Children will receive an event passport to get stamped by exhibitors at the event to earn a souvenir button.

Food trucks will be on site. Composting and recycling will be offered by Shenandoah Green and Black Bear Composting. Bring your own reusable water bottle.

Local students create environmentally inspired artwork in celebration of Earth Day, which can be viewed on EarthDayStaunton.org and the Earth Day Staunton Facebook page.

Individuals of a more poetic nature can enter the Earth Day Poetry Contest, open for submissions until April 30, 2024. Poems can be related to this year’s theme or other environmental issues. Prizes will be awarded for the best in four categories: Elementary, Middle/High School, Adult and American Sign Language, and presented at a Poetry Jam in October. Details will be available soon on EarthDayStaunton.org and ShenandoahGreen.org.

Earth Day Staunton is organized by a coalition of area organizations including Shenandoah Green, Augusta Bird Club, Friends of the Middle River, Staunton Parks and Recreation, Mary Baldwin University, Valley Conservation Council and the Lewis Creek Watershed Advisory Council.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.