Thursday, April 22, marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, the annual event that calls for people around the world to celebrate the earth and pledge to take steps toward a healthier and cleaner environment.
In Bellmore this week and beyond, local schools, libraries, other organizations, businesses and individuals are "going green" in a variety of ways, raising awareness and inviting everyone in the community to join them.
The North Bellmore Library sponsored a inviting children in grades K to 6 to name two ways they are "going green" either at home or at school to win a raffle prize. The top 10 ways to save, reduce, reuse or recycle will be published as a bookmark (on recycled paper) and will be available at the library. At the Bellmore Memorial Library, teenagers will be making an Earth Day craft, making paper tablets using recycled paper.
Local elementary school students are engaging in a variety of earth-friendly activities this week. On Earth Day itself, in the Bellmore Elementary School District, children in grades K-2 at Reinhard Early Childhood Center will plant a Zelkova shade tree donated by Cornell Cooperative Extension. The next day, Friday, at Winthrop Avenue School, the district will celebrate its Bellmore Star Power Learning Center with a Solar Energy Kick-Off of its 25-killowatt solar-electric system installation made possible through a state grant. (Look for the stories on Patch to follow.)
In North Bellmore School District, Earth Day afternoon events include an ArborDay/Earth Day Celebration on the south lawn at a Recycled Art Show at Saw Mill Road School, and a Shut off the Lights to save electricity event at Martin Avenue School. At Newbridge Road School, a student club, the Earth Squad, is hosting Earth Week activities such as a Recycled Object Project Contest, Garbage-Free Lunch Day and Green Slogan Day.
At Dinkelmeyer School, kindergarteners will be planting a pumpkin flower whose life cycle they watched develop, second-graders will hold an Earth Day Foods Party, enjoying a variety of vegetables, and third-graders will be exploring hydroponics as an alternative system for growing food. Dinkelmeyer students also plan to decorate brown paper bags with messages for Earth Day about reusing, reducing waste and recycling and return them to Stop and Shop and distrubuted to customersas a way to get the "Go Green" message out to the community.
At local high school and middle schools, heightened awareness about helping the planet is ongoing. At W.C. Mepham High School, for example, three students won "Best Video Project" in the 2010 Long Island Youth Summit for their Renewable Energy movie project. The high school's ongoing Environmental Interest Club was founded to provide students a chance to make changes in our local environment as students work with local agencies and participate in beach cleanups and recycling activities. At Grand Avenue Middle School this year, a beach clean up is also on the agenda for the Builders Club, a community service group sponsored by the Bellmore Kiwanis Club.
The Bellmore Kiwanis Club itself has become increasingly environmentally conscious. Last year, for example, the club stopped using Styrofoam coffee cups and began using only biodegradable tableware and paper goods at its annual Pancake Breakfast and at the Strawberry Festival it co-hosts with the Bellmore Lions every spring. Also at the festival, composting was implemented, and a "Green Expo" area was added where local eco-friendly businesses present energy efficiency and similar options.
Local businesses are also encouraging residents to "go green." Bellmore-based Built Well Solar Corp. invites Long Island children in grades K to 5 to enter its Every Day is Earth Day Poster Contest to win a solar-powered "ecomobile" remote-controlled toy car and a $250 credit toward a home solar-electric installation.
Increasing numbers of local retailers sell and encourage the use of reusable canvas bags as replacements for plastic bags. Stop & Shop supermarket in North Bellmore goes one step further, sponsoring a Plastic Bag Recycling Program in which plastic shopping bags, as well as dry cleaning bags and newspaper bags are collected for recycling for the manufacture of composite decking.