Homer celebrates ‘Earth Day’

Where better to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday than in Homer, one of Earth’s most beautiful places?

Among scheduled activities is the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center community-wide cleanup campaign.

“This is an annual event we’ve been doing for many years,” said Jan Knutson, the chamber’s visitor center manager, adding they don’t do it alone.

Alaska Waste provides trash and recycle bins in the visitor center parking lot. Kenai Peninsula Borough provides bright yellow trash bags. Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary volunteers track the number of full bags brought to the visitor center parking lot. The Lions Club serves hot dogs and hamburgers to hungry trash collectors and donates prizes for the most bags collected by an individual, a family and a nonprofit or group, and the most bags of recycle items collected.

“We’re also partnering with the (Homer Community Food Pantry) on Saturday, encouraging people to clean out their freezers of moose, fish, everything, and nonperishables,” said Knutson. “Food Pantry volunteers will have coolers at the chamber. Bring your cooler in, transfer the items to their cooler, and they’ll do regular runs to the Food Pantry.”

The yellow trash bags already are available to be picked up at Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware, Save U More, Redden Marine and Fritz Creek General Store.

“You’ve got to do your work before Saturday,” said Knutson, encouraging trash pickup during the week for drop-off on Saturday. HoWL, Homer Wilderness Leaders, sets an example by collecting trash during the week and being the first to deliver it on Saturday, Knutson said.

HoWL also is organizing Friday night’s “Dirt Bag Ball,” a family-friendly event at Alice’s Champagne Palace with live music by the Devil Club Trio, an ice cream sundae bar, live auction and door prizes.

At Jack Gist Park, Moose Pretzel Disc Golf holds an Earth Day tournament starting at 4 p.m. Saturday. At noon disc golfers also hold a work party to help get the course in shape for the season. The tournament entry fee is $20, including a commemorative disc, but volunteers who help at the work party pay a reduced fee of $10.

Cook Inletkeeper is holding an electronics recycling event in the Spenard Builders parking lot on Lake Street on Saturday. This isn’t a new event, but there is one important change.

“We used to accept business donations of electronics by the weight, but this year we’re just doing one general suggested donation of $15 per monitor. Everything else is free,” said Natalia Mulawa, coordinator of the event. She encouraged calling ahead to schedule drop-off of large amounts of electronics — enough to fill a pallet or truck. A list of electronics accepted for recycling can be found on Cook Inletkeeper’s web and Facebook pages.

“We sometimes don’t think about it when we throw away something that it can pollute our environment in a big way, so we’re trying to stay clean and environmental friendly in Alaska and especially in Homer,” said Mulawa.

Homer’s first March for Science, one of more than 500 similar marches happening around the world on Earth Day, is being organized locally by Sue Mauger and other local scientists.

“We have so much science — science of (Kachemak Bay), climate research, a hospital full of doctors who rely on cutting edge science, wonderful veterinarians who care for our pets, and so much in marine services — that we rely on in Homer that comes out of basic research,” said Mauger. “This is a community that obviously embraces science and we felt like we wanted to raise our voices that we think science is important.”

The march begins in the lower Homer High School parking lot and continues along the Pioneer Avenue sidewalk accompanied by a brass band and a police escort. In the Homer Council on the Arts parking lot, marchers will be entertained with music, add their names to a large sign to be sent by Homer Flex students to local decision-makers, and “if people want to head off to Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for events that begin there, that’ll be great,” Mauger said.

The “Artists Know Climate Change” art exhibit, live music and three speakers continue the Earth Day celebration at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, coordinated by Bjorn Olson of Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and the “Alaskans Know Climate Change” campaign.

“The state of Alaska is dragging its feet in addressing an issue that is impacting Alaska in ways we can see,” said Olson. “These effects are predicted by science. The campaign Alaskans Know Climate Change exists to link the dots between what we’re seeing with our own eyes and what science has predicted and encourages state governments to take more aggressive steps.”

McKibben Jackinsky is a freelance writer and can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@gmail.com.

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