In January and February 1969, the waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, California experienced the largest oil spill in US waters at the time. This tragic event, described as a “three million gallon blowout” by this article, led then-Senator Nelson of Wisconsin to organize what came to be known as Earth Day.
“We only have one earth, so we have to take care of her.”
– Senator Gaylord Nelson
I was fortunate to spend about a third of my life living in Santa Barbara enjoying its timeless beauty. Although decades have passed since this disastrous oil spill, it’s impossible to escape the poignant environmental effects it had on the Pacific Coast’s marine life, flora, fauna and human population. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Santa Barbarian – young or old – unable to tell you about the long-lasting impact of that spill. And in true Southern California spirit, you’d have a hard time finding a local who won’t invite you to celebrate Earth Day in true Santa Barbara fashion.
While I’d love for us all to hop on over to the West Coast to share in loving and celebrating our Earth on Earth Day, my private jet is otherwise occupied that day…so, I invite you all to join me right here in Knoxville celebrating Earth Day at the 17th annual EarthFest to be held next Saturday, April 16th, starting at 10am at World’s Fair Park.
In past years my kids and I have had a blast visiting EarthFest and I’m sure this year will be no exception! The day’s activities include scavenger hunts, live music, and crafts and learning activities designed with our kids in mind. Make sure to check out EarthFest’s website to learn more about the event and for volunteering opportunities.
This festival is a valuable opportunity to talk with our kids about the importance of respecting our planet and finding ways in which we can help each and every day. And while it’s always nice to have a special day to commemorate something as important as our Earth, I try to give my kids daily opportunities to do their part because one day, they will be the ones teaching future generations.
Much of what we do costs us very little or nothing at all…in fact, some of our actions not only help save the Earth, but also help us save money:
- we recycle any and all recyclable materials, including batteries and electronics; the kids really enjoy participating in sorting our recyclable goods and learning about how things we no longer use can be made anew. As an added bonus is the recycling truck’s bi-weekly visit!
- we turn off lights when we leave a room
- we limit water usage by keeping the faucet running only when we’re actively using the water. I recently read that something as simple as turning off the water while brushing your teeth helps save up to 25 gallons of water each month!
- we run the dishwasher only when it’s full
- we use reusable water bottles, and snack and lunch containers
- we bring reusable cloth bags to the grocery store
- we don’t litter and we do our part to help keep parks and playgrounds free of other people’s litter
- we eat locally grown and sourced foods, whenever possible
- we attempt to grow our own veggies; fingers crossed for a productive veggie garden this summer!
- we plant new trees and flowers. This has been a hit with the kids! Last year at EarthFest they were gifted two packets of morning glory seeds; we planted them by our mailbox and eagerly watched the vines grow and the flowers bloom!
There are many more things we can all do to reduce our footprint and help safeguard our planet; these are just some simple and easy-to-implement ideas for kids and adults alike.
In keeping with the theme of teaching my kids about the importance of caring for our planet and treating it with respect for our generation and future ones, we do what we can, as mentioned above, to eat healthy and locally sourced foods. This is where the fabulous selection of Knoxville’s farmers’ markets come into play!
One of my favorite things about the spring and summer months in Knoxville is the plethora of fresh and local veggies and fruits available at the farmers’ markets. I love taking my kids to learn about locally grown and sourced foods, meet local vendors and learn about their farms, and best of all, come home with fresh, nutritious, and delicious fruits and veggies picked at the height of freshness.
My favorite, and the one we visit most frequently, is the Market Square Farmers’ Market. It’s fun to wander around downtown on a Saturday morning, checking out the fresh East Tennessee regional produce and handmade crafts, sampling the food truck treats, and letting the kids explore Krutch Park. When it’s warm enough, my little ones love to splash around in the Market Square fountain too. It’s pure bliss for them and their happiness puts smiles on our faces.
Knoxville Farmers’ Markets Updated for 2016
Wednesdays from 11am to 2pm and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm in Market Square
Duration: May 4 through November 19
Tuesdays from 3-6pm at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, opening April 12
Wednesdays from 3 to sellout AND Saturdays from 8am to noon in Oak Ridge at the Historic Jackson Square, opening April 16 for Saturdays and opening May 4 for Wednesdays
Fridays from 3-6pm at Lakeshore Park, opening April 15
Wednesdays from 4-7pm at the UT Gardens on Neyland Drive
Duration: May 11 through October 19
Please check website linked above for the2016 schedule; information had not been listed as of 4.8.16.
Saturdays from 9am to noon at 12740 Kingston Pike
Duration: April 30 through November 5
Saturdays in July from 9am to noon, on the sidewalks along the South side of Broadway (between the First National Bank Gazebo and Roane State)
Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30pm (or until sellout) at First Baptist Maryville (202 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN 37801) and Saturdays from 9am to noon (or until sellout) on Church Avenue, near the CBBC Bank
Duration: June through August