Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Environmental protection is becoming a critical issue. It is important that we as consumers adopt more eco-friendly attitudes towards protecting Mother Earth. The year 2011 marked the 41th anniversary of Earth Day and offered a great opportunity to embark on new ways of promoting a global green economy. Earth Day has the potential to encourage citizens to make personal commitments that ensure environmental sustainability. In fact, mobilizing the power of citizens to create change is key to environmental protection; by taking small steps in their schools, homes and businesses, citizens can improve the overall quality of their lives.
The Urban-Rural Interface Conference (URIC) is an annual ACES program that examines common issues that impact urban and rural communities. A specific aim of the conference is to provide educational information and resources that prepare citizens to become better stewards of the environment. In recognition of Earth Day, the 2011 URIC featured a “Green Living Expo.” The Expo provided the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and educate the general public on environmental issues. It offered answers to a number of very important questions. Are you an eco-friendly consumer? Do you know which household products or services are less harmful to the environment? Do you know how to make your home more energy efficient? Exhibitors had an opportunity to answer these questions, make demonstrations, and showcase their “green” products, programs, and services to public.
During the Expo the public received vital information on the benefits of using organic products and foods and environmentally safe chemicals and materials. The Expo provided eco-friendly games and activities that fostered learning for youth and students. It featured recycling and e-cycling drives, in which discarded items, like cell phones were collected. Citizens were also encouraged to bring paper and plastic items such as magazines, newspapers, cardboard, phonebooks, loose-leaf papers, soda bottles, and milk jugs to recycle. Student organizations and groups were invited to participate in the re-cycling activities as well. Environmental specialists were on-hand to discuss issues like, pollution prevention, natural resource conservation, soil and water pollution, forest and wetland conservation, and wildlife protection. Lastly, state and government organizations were present to discuss their roles in environmental protection and to introduce the public to “green” jobs and environmental careers.
In short, the “Green Living Expo” took a novel approach to serving Extension’s broad citizenry. Its efforts made certain that concepts of environmental protection persist for future generations. It sought to continue established extension educational program efforts and take them to another level, allowing for optimal interaction and dialogue among citizens and stakeholders. In the spirit of Earth Day’s founder, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, we aimed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. The event was free to the public.