Earth Day is celebrating 40 years…and here in Northeast Ohio we’re festooned with TV documentaries, feature news stories in all the dailies and weeklies, community green exhibits and sustainability consumer shows up the whazzoo!  I’m not complaining. It’s beautiful to see the interest and awareness growing. 

In Northeast Ohio you can easily count a couple dozen major Earth Day events happening from the shores of Lake Erie to the hills of Wooster. I got to a few under my belt even last weekend, including the granddaddy of them all–EarthFest 2010 at Cleveland’s MetroParks Zoo.

The cooler weather and drizzle shouldn’t have been an excuse for the lack of participants who were able to hop on the RTA in downtown Cleveland’s Tower City for FREE and get into the zoo for FREE.  Although, typical for me, it ended up costing me $50 for illegally parking in a bus zone.

I appreciate all the exhibitor’s efforts to raise consciousness, draw in the kidlets with the green message and educate us all about saving the planet, but, hey, think folks, the greenwashing watchdogs are out there… and they’re teeth are growing sharper every day. 

Here’s a few Cleveland Zoo EarthFest green exhibitor “faux pas”  (among too many) that I found:  

  • A major city environmental agency handed me a classy, reusable aluminum portable water bottle stamped “Made in China.”
  • An organic food vendor was using styrofoam plates and encouraging everyone to throw their aluminum pop cans in with the styrofoam.
  • A school’s environmental class was stuffing canvas shopping bags (not plastic, good work there!) with up to six different high gloss pieces of literature on non-recycled paper to everyone who stopped by whether they wanted the literature or not.

Need I explain what’s wrong with these scenarios?  Don’t think so!  Just to let you know, in the monkey exhibit, the mountain gorilla got it right when he showed visitors how he eats recycled food: catching his excrement before it hit the ground and eating it!  He also showed us the art of eating local, fresh and organic, too.

Hey, I’m not a purist by any means, but I caution green vendors to dig a little deeper and think a little harder when planning their exhibits for next year’s 41st anniversary of Earth Day. ..

…and I will be using my classy aluminum water bottle for many months to come on bicycle outings, but I sure wish it was manufactured from recycled aluminum in one of Akron’s manufacturing plants.