Fairfield goes green for Earth Day

Amie Hall explains to  Abby and Emma  how to grow vegetables from vegetables during Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration. (Shawn O'Sullivan Photo)

A youngster gets a reusable bag at Fairfield's Earth Day celebration. (Shawn O'Sullivan Photo)

Natalia examines a hive of bees at the Backyard Beekeepers booth during Fairfield's Earth Day celebration at Fairfiel Warde High School. (Shawn O'Sullivan Photo)

Joe Tadduni leads the All Star Energy Band during Fairfield’s Earth Day celebration at Fairfield Warde High School. (Shawn O’Sullivan Photo)

The Westport Electric Car club sponsored  Connecticut’s first electric car rally, which made a stop at Fairfield’s Earth Day celebration at Fairfield Warde High School. Robin Tauk participated in her Tesla Roadster. (Shawn O’Sullivan Photo)

Green was the color of the day when Fairfield celebrated Earth Day, as Republican state Rep. Brenda Kupchick and Democratic state Rep. Kim Fawcett both leaned green. (Shawn O’Sullivan Photo)

Andy Kosch’s replica of Gustave Whitehead’s historic plane, No. 21, looks as if it would take filignt any moment during Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration. (Shawn O’Sullivan Photo)

The Trashy Fashion Show  featuring clothing made from recycled objects designed and modeled by students was held during Fairfield's. Earth Day Celebration at Fairfield Warde High School. (Shawn O'Sullivan Photo)

Tommy Hacker, Dan Delventhal, founder of Mow Green,  show a new push mower to Earth Day Chairman Larry Kaley, (Shawn O’Sullivan Photo)

Mother Earth put her best face on for Fairfield’s 15th annual Earth Day celebration, appropriately themed “The Face of Climate Change.” In a community where the effects of climate change have been sorely felt in the past few years, this reminded us that ours are the faces that reflect that change.

An estimated 1,000 people turned out at Fairfield Warde High School on Saturday, faces full of delight, concern, curiosity, and purpose. Each was there to celebrate our very green town and find out how they might contribute. As always, fun plus learning proved an unbeatable combination.

Children got the chance to learn about wildlife at the Audubon tent, look at microscopic organisms at the River Lab booth, or get some up-close info on what goes on in a beehive. Children’s art made from trash was exhibited, and of course, faces were painted.

Trash was everywhere. “Trashy Fashion,” a yearly favorite, highlighted the creativity of high school students, who sashayed the runway accompanied by the music of the All Star Energy Band. They wore clothing created from items found in the trash, all the while bringing attention to the devastating effects of plastics and other waste on the environment.

For those with green thumbs, Master Gardeners answered questions about soil and insecticides, and booths offered information on invasive plants, organic gardening and composting. Amie Hall and Boy Scout Troop 88 demonstrated how easy it is to grow a garden foot by foot in their square-foot garden display.

For those not so green-thumbed, companies such as Homegrown Harvest offered pre-planted beds and containers.

Many vendors shared information on clean energy options for the home, from solar to energy-efficient lighting and building products and energy assessment. Community Energy promoted the health and environmental benefits of choosing renewables.

Connecticut’s first electric vehicle rally, sponsored by the Westport Electric Car Club, chose the event for a pit stop during its 40-mile race. The roar of the engines might have been missing, but there was a buzz of excitement in the air. Spectators gathered around the drivers, who were most happy to talk about the energy savings and affordability of their plug-in cars. A major source of Fairfield’s poor air quality is highway congestion, so these intrepid racers were doing something for their neighbors and having fun.

One of the highlights of the day was a chance to see Andy Kosch’s replica of Gustave Whitehead’s No. 21. Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft recently recognized that it first flew in Fairfield in 1901, two years before the Wright brothers.

The day also offered a glimpse of what Fairfield’s representatives in Hartford and Washington, D.C., are thinking on environmental issues. During a Q&A session, a panel including state Reps. Kim Fawcett, Brenda Kupchick and Tony Hwang, state Sen. John McKinney, and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes fielded questions from the audience regarding issues that affect Fairfielders, from GMOs to coastal infrastructure and storm damage, to the controversial issue of fracking.

Himes said that except for the renewables such as solar and wind, which constitute only a tiny portion of current energy sources, “all the rest of the stuff is dangerous and dirty.”

“If we are going to be serious about climate change, if we are going to be serious about moving toward clean, sustainable, cheap American energy sources, we are going to have to move beyond the little tax credits and R&D credits, to something that looks either more like a comprehensive cap and trade mechanism or a carbon tax, provided we do it in a way which doesn’t hurt poorer families or damage American competitiveness,” Himes said. “Competitiveness is important.”

Although all agreed it’s important to concentrate on American energy, Fawcett made no bones about it. She doesn’t like fracking.

“Fracking in general makes me a little bit creeped out,” Fawcett said. “The idea of going down into the earth and blasting to get out gas seems very selfish. Maybe we could do that in a few locations and not necessarily cause too much damage, but if we are going to be fracking our planet for the next 10 to 20 years I cringe at what we are doing to the interior of our planet. I’m not sure the benefits of the gas we pull out are worth it.”

On a health note, McKinney noted that the GMO labeling bill is currently on the house calendar, and urged residents to write, call or email Speaker Brendan Sharkey, and also to email Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to express opinions.

“It was an event that was informative in different ways, with such diversity in the exhibitors,” said Larry Kaley, chair of the Fairfield Earth Day Celebration. “You have all these options which are environmentally friendly. It’s happening. So join the bandwagon. We’re on our way.”

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