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Earth Day goes virtual in Springfield

(KY3)
Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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Today marks the 50th Earth Day Celebration. It started in 1970 to raise awareness on the environment, and environmental protection issues.

Normally, there are community events held to celebrate Earth Day, because of the stay at home order, it is not possible this year.

Springfield Environmental Services is taking Earth Day Virtual. They are already seeing increased community involvement with their efforts.

The message they want to spread is Earth Day is not just today, but every day.

“We work every single day throughout the year to protect the environment,” Kristen Milam, with Springfield Environmental Services, said.

Springfield Environmental Services partnered up with the James River Basin Partnership, Springfield Compost Collective, and several others to create a series of Facebook Live events to help raise awareness on ways to help the environment.

“You can be right there in your pajamas if you want to,” Milam said.

The videos are educational and can be watched back later if you miss the live streaming. Experts were also available to answer questions on how to properly compost, and the dos and don’ts of recycling.

Todd Wilkinson, the Project Manager with the James River Basin Partnership, said normally they host a clean-up event at Lake Springfield for Earth Day. This year, he showed a video explaining the South Creek Restoration Project, explained why water quality is so important and talked about the river critters in the stream.

Wilkinson also spoke of the importance of keeping our rivers and lakes clean in the Ozarks.

“People first came to the Ozarks because of those streams and rivers. Because of the fishing opportunities,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson encourages people to still go out to Lake Springfield and clean up any trash, as long as social distancing is practiced. He recommends picking up debris and litter when out on a hike or in the woods. If everyone does this, there will not be any trash left.

“Even what seems like a small gesture can really make a big difference,” Wilkinson said.

Litter and even lawn clippings and leaves often end up in storm drains.

“What goes into our storm drains goes out into our creeks and into the river,” Wilkinson said.

Oil from cars or lawnmowers is also an issue. If it leaks into the street, then a light rain will wash that into the storm drains and into lakes. This pollutes the water. Wilkinson recommends checking your cars for leakage.

There are a few simple ways you can help the environment now.

First, just be aware of the factors affecting the environment. To help with this, there is a 12 Day Earth Day Celebration challenge. Each day Environmental Services posts an activity you and your family can participate in to raise awareness on environmental issues.

The 12 Day challenge began on April 18th.

Day 1: Trash to Treasure - Encouraging people to turn an item they would normally throw away, into something usable.

Day 2: Make a Pledge - Pledge to do something different to help the environment. Such as picking up more trash, or reducing single-use plastic.

Day 3: Walk in a Park - Practice social distancing while walking in the park and enjoying nature. See if you can pick up some trash while you walk.

Day 4 - Celebrate the Earth Day - Wish everyone Happy Earth Day by posting on social media.

The rest of the challenges can be found on the City of Springfield website, the link is posted below.

These challenges will continue through April 30th. You can challenge your friends by tallying points for each activity you participate in. If you are behind on activities, the posts will still be available on social media and you can start the challenge anytime.

“It’s a way to bring the community together, we feel like we’re isolated but in a way those virtual events bring us together,” Wilkinson said.

When in-person activities and services begin again, Milam does not want these virtual classes and activities to go away. Online outreach has reached more people, and easy to do anytime and right from home.

“I do see us continuing to offer these options, especially virtual classes,” Milam said.

For more information on Earth Day: https://www.springfieldmo.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=6718

For more information on the 12 Day Challenge: https://www.springfieldmo.gov/earthday#Link_2