Twenty years after it became a nationally recognized observance, Earth Day remains a time for the environmentally aware to reflect on the ecological fragility of the planet we all call home, and to recommit their talents and resources to preserving what's left, naturally speaking, for generations to come.
Saturday, April 22, is it. And not just Earth Day nowadays, but World Earth Day.
In the Virgin Islands, somehow it figures that the center of attention should be on St. John — simultaneously, as luck would have it, with the final monthly "St. John Saturday" arts and crafts occasion for the time being.
In and around Cruz Bay, the V.I. National Park, St. John Action Committee, St. John Community Foundation and Maho Bay Camps have a full day of events planned. Action central from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. is the park itself, where there will be assorted demonstrations, presentations and, of course, live music, arts and crafts, native foods and drinks.
Those in the mood for a ranger-guided, not-too-rigorous morning hike along the Lind Point Trail should meet at 10 a.m. by the National Park Service booth at Cruz Bay Park. Hikers are urged to take along drinking water and sun protection.
Presentations in the park will include demonstrations of composting, paint recycling, plastic recycling and solar power harnessing.
For the paint project, residents are asked to bring cans of leftover paint to the park. The assembled containers will be sorted rather as one does the laundry, and then groupings of various colors will be mixed together and strained to produce new product in such shades as "Dusk" (combined whites, yellows and pale tints), "Haze" (mixed pastels) and "Midnight" (blended bright and dark colors). The new paints will be resold at $5 for one gallon and $20 for five; those intending to make purchases are asked to bring their own empty containers, if possible.
Throughout the day, young participants in the St. John Foundation's Project Green-Up program in Coral Bay will share information on how to form and utilize compost to fertilize plantings. The group will be raffling a "state-of-the-art backyard composter," a black plastic barrel that absorbs solar heat to accelerate the process of decaying vegetation and at the same time creates liquid "compost tea" fertilizer for plants.
Until 5 p.m., Maho Bay Camps environmental artist-in-residence Larry Livolsi will discuss and demonstrate his plastic recycling program, with hands-on involvement opportunities for visitors. Livolsi, who also creates art from recycled glass and aluminum, workes with a plastic shredder, a melting tank and molds made from recycled aluminum to create artistic and functional items from No. 1 (sodas, juices, salad dressings) and No. 2 (milk and gallon water) plastic containers. The public is invited to bring clean jugs and bottles to see what they can be turned into instead of landfill debris.
(If you can't make it to Earth Day in Cruz Bay, you can catch Livolsi in action at Maho Bay Camps demonstrating plastic recycling in the coming week on Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m.- noon; recycled glass-blowing Tuesday 2-4 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.-noon, and Thursday 2- 4 p.m.; and aluminum recycling Wednesday 2-4 p.m. He'll also have a slide show presentation Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. in the Maho Bay dining pavilion.)
The V.I. Energy Office will have information about rebates on the purchase of energy-saving major appliances and will demonstrate a solar-powered water pump. Also available will be samples of Maho Bay Camps solar-baked cookies and short rides in a solar-powered electric car.
Until 4 p.m., National Park Service rangers will have information on how the park is part of a nationwide system showcasing natural, historic and cultural areas of interest. And at the top of each hour through 3 p.m. a park ranger will lead environmentally oriented games and activities for children.
If you notice an unusual number of new garbage containers set up outside businesses throughout Cruz Bay, thank the merchants for having purchased them to take part in a town-wide "Put Garbage in Its Place" campaign.
On St. Thomas, no public observance of Earth Day was announced, although students in the Civil Air Patrol and Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission programs will be out picking up litter, and the Family Center of the Women's League in Pollyberg will be giving away plants.
However, Coral World is going to observe what it has dubbed "Earth Week" Monday through Friday, April 24-28. Displays in the Blue Water Terrace at the marine park will feature information about local underwater life, marine debris, non-point source pollution, products from the sea and alternative energy resources.
This project to promote awareness of the marine environment and conservation of local resources is a collaborative effort with the V.I. Division of Fish and Wildlife, the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, the Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission, the V.I. Marine Advisory Service and the Reef Rangers youth organization.
"When we heard that there was no celebration planned on St. Thomas as there had been in previous years, we felt that we should take the lead in organizing something," Coral World curator Donna Nemeth said. "We hope that Coral World may serve as the venue for future Earth Day events."
On St. Croix, no commemorations of Earth Day itself were announced, either. But, again, related observances are soon to come.
The St. Croix Environmental Association will host its annual Earth Day Eco-Fair at St. George's Village Botanical Garden on Thursday through Saturday, April 27-29, with Thursday and Friday reserved for school groups and Saturday open to the public. Among other entities collaborating in the event are the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the UVI Sea Grant program.