The Earth Week Extravaganza in Athens County has emerged again in 2017, with more collaborating organizations than ever promoting events and creating new opportunities for citizen action and awareness in environmental sustainability.
In its second year of partnership, the Earth Month Coalition has added more events for visitors, fest-goers and long-time residents to engage with and show support of our shared home, Earth. This year, the coalition designated March 22 through April 22 as Earth Month – branding the effort as “Earth Day Every Day,” an original concept from the Office of Sustainability at Ohio University.
Last year, the first year of the partnership, brought organizations together to promote a series of local Earth Week events called the “Earth Week Extravaganza,” the week that also includes Earth Day.
What is now known as Earth Day in the United States and abroad also marked a pivotal turning point in federal governance in this country, which eventually created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the crucial environmental monitoring and research we rely so heavily on to create and protect healthy communities.
These events may be particularly important this year with the federal administration looking to slash the EPA’s budget by up to 31 percent, or shutting the agency down entirely in pursuit of what appears to be a “pro-segregation, no-regulation” policy agenda. More than ever, we need people to realize this threat and to connect with groups that can put them within the radar of important decision-makers.
Including seed giveaways, workshops, films, celebrations and concerts, the Earth Week Extravaganza of 2017 promises to create the pathways for communities to participate in local sustainability efforts. And while these events are highlighted during Earth Month, there have been notable projects to connect with:
In place for over a year, the zero percent interest auto loan for purchasing all-electric and hybrid cars offered by UpGrade Athens County and the Ohio University Credit Union (OUCU) is great for those looking for a new ride. The program will be available until June 8, 2017, so the time to act is now!
Issuing more than 60 loans since the start of the EV Loan Program, the OUCU has been so pleased with the community response that they also have decided to offer “sustainability special” loans for members to buy high-efficiency water heaters and wood stoves, Energy Star-certified appliances, electric bicycles, home electric car charging systems, solar panel installations and other low-energy upgrades.
One working group of the Appalachian Renewable Energy Consumer Cooperative (ARECC) has launched a “better burn, less waste” campaign as part of their wood stove and forest preservation project. This group is actively recruiting consumers who use wood to heat their homes to consider upgrading their equipment to high-efficiency wood stoves and fireplaces.
“Replacing an old low-efficiency wood stove (20-30 percent efficiency) with new high-efficiency stove (80- 90 percent efficiency) that meets new EPA clean air standards can save money and reduce particulate and carbon emissions,” says Roger Wilkens, the president of ARECC. “For the many people in our area who heat with wood, taking this step, with the help of the Credit Union and the Cooperative, is an easy way to join the energy transition.”
OUCU members are encouraged to reach out to UpGrade Athens County if they have their own product ideas for using the sustainability special loan program. Go to www.upgradeohio.org/sustainability-specials/ to pitch your idea.
If you’re in the market for solar energy, the Appalachian Ohio solar co-op, offered to people living in multiple counties in southeast Ohio, is accepting members to use their bulk discount price for a new home solar installation. Co-op members are seeing a 12-15 percent reduction in the total price of an installation by using the bulk purchasing power of the cooperative structure. The time to go solar is now as the membership from Athens, Pomeroy and Marietta are realizing the long-term savings of investing in power from renewable sources. Get connected at www.ohsun.org/appalachian.
For those that aren’t ready for the co-op but still love solar, the “DIY Solar Generator” workshop on April 18 from 5-9 p.m., hosted by UpGrade Ohio, Rural Action and Blue Rock Station, is sure to give you your fill. Jay Warmke, a well-known educator across the state for solar and wind technical training, will be teaching participants about the basics of building your own solar generator. The cost of the workshop is only $55 and it includes a meal, hands-on training and a copy of “Assembling a Solar Generator: How to Harness the Sun for Power when you Need it Most” (a $20 value).
For a list of all events in the “Earth Day, Every Day” month-long series, visit:
People are starting to make the link between energy choices and the rapidly changing climate. They’re increasingly aware how individual choices spread much further than what is used in one’s home or business – every energy choice has an impact. The best part is that we can make these energy choices work better for us by spurring economic activity and keeping local dollars circulating in local communities. There’s more opportunity than ever for change that is built on foundations of conservation, community and energy innovation. This column is dedicated to that movement.