The second Sunday in May is set aside as Mother’s Day, but every April, Mother Nature gets her fair share of attention.
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the original Earth Day (known internationally as International Mother Earth Day), which was founded April 22, 1970, by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.).
Chattanooga-area organizations and businesses have programs slated this weekend emphasizing environmental responsibility and activism.
Because Earth Day this year coincides with Easter weekend and Good Friday, some groups have opted to host events early or delay them. Both the Chattanooga Zoo and Tennessee Aquarium host a Party for the Planet each Earth Day, but the zoo celebrated early and the aquarium is delaying its event until April 30.
Although its main celebration will not fall on Earth Day, the aquarium hosts environmental awareness programs throughout the year. Communications director Thom Benson said he is heartened by how the outreach activities are attracting younger participants.
“It’s funny because the kids get really excited and try to beat each other to pick up a piece of trash,” he said, referring to the aquarium’s Walk the Talk activity as part of Party for the Planet.
“Seeing the little ones picking up trash ... or seeing parents taking little kids to the recycling center is great because they really do pick up on those habits,” he added. “That’s encouraging. Any of these activities that make it fun and keep it exciting are all good.”
If you can’t wait until April 30, here are seven ways to show the planet you care this weekend.
1) Build a pot from recycled newspapers, learn to build a rain barrel and see an educational show featuring birds of prey.
- Where: Rock City’s EarthDayz, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain.
- When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 1.
- Cost: Included in Rock City admission ($18.95 adults; $10.95 ages 3-12.
- Telephone: 706-820-2531.
- Website: www.seerockcity.com/pages/earth-dayz
- “Along with our normal sustainable message, ... we’re trying to encourage families to get outside this spring and get them to think about reducing, reusing and recycling in new ways.” — Kim Jackson, Rock City director of special events
2) Get credit toward new clothing by trading in used boots or denim and leather items. Gently used pieces will be donated to local charities.
- Where: Recycle Day at Thunder Creek Harley Davidson, 7720 Lee Highway.
- When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m., today.
- Cost: Free. (Clothing redeemed at $5-$50, based on degree of use.)
- Telephone: 892-4888.
- Website: www.thundercreekharley.com
“This is our third year or fourth year. We started it ... to encourage our customers to recycle and be aware of their impact. We wanted a fun way to tie in the theme of Earth Day with being more aware of your place in the world.” — Kari Hoisington, Thunder Creek’s clothing manager.
3) Hear from local conservation groups, watch aquatic sports demonstrations and exchange used outdoor sporting gear.
- Where: Outdoor Chattanooga’s Outdoor Expo and Rock/Creek Gear Swap, Coolidge Park, 150 River St.
- When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday.
- Cost: Free, but there is a charge for some activities, such as the Walnut climbing wall and kids inflatables.
- Telephone: 643-6888.
- Website: www.outdoorchattanooga.com.
- “The Tennessee River Gorge Trust will be here along with other people who preserve the places we like to play. This is a way to get some great gear for cheap, [and] a lot of this gear is reusable over the long haul.” — Ruthie Thompson, events and marketing specialist at Outdoor Chattanooga
4) Bring a dish to a communal potluck dinner and learn about the importance of soil and its preservation through a screening of the documentary “Dirt! The Movie.”
- Where: Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St.
- When: Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., today. The film screening will follow at 7:30.
- Cost: Free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to the potluck.
- Telephone: 493-9155.
- Website: www.crabtreefarms.org
- “[‘Dirt!’] is about soil and how we need to take better care of it in order to keep things growing and be able to eat.” — Andrea Jaeger, intern at Crabtree Farms
5) Learn how a little oil can contaminate 1,000 gallons of water and get tips on keeping local water supplies clean. Afterward, help stomp the jugs for recycling.
- Where: The plaza in front of the Tennessee Aquarium, 201 Chestnut St.
- When: 8-10:30 a.m., Saturday. Meet in front of the member’s River Journey entrance.
- Cost: Free.
- Telephone: 265-0695.
- Website: www.tnaqua.org
- “If you have one tablespoon of oil, it can contaminate 1,000 gallons of water.” — Thom Benson, Tennessee Aquarium director of communications
6) Watch two families of wild felines struggle to survive in the Disney Nature documentary “African Cats.”
- Where: Carmike Majestic 12 (311 Broad St.), Carmike Northgate 14 (310 Ring Road, Hixson) and Rave Motion Pictures East Ridge (5080 South Terrace, East Ridge).
- When: Various show times (check newspaper listings).
- Cost: $6-9.50, depending on super-bargain matinee, matinee or regular tickets.
- Telephone: 826-2370 (Majestic 12), 870-9833 (Northgate 14) and 855-9652 (Rave).
- Website: www.disney.go.com/disneynature/africancats
7) Take part in free Earth Day weekend workshops on eco-friendly gardening, energy- and water-efficient appliances or building a kid-friendly Earth Day planter basket.
- Where: The Home Depot locations in Chattanooga (7421 Commons Blvd.), Hixson (1944 Northpoint Blvd.) and Fort Oglethorpe (2044 Battlefield Parkway).
- When: 9 a.m.-noon (planter basket), 10-11 a.m. (eco-friendly appliances) and 1-2 p.m. (gardening), all Saturday.
- Cost: Free, register in-store or online.
- Telephone: 499-4980 (Chattanooga), 877-5577 (Hixson) and 706-858-0398 (Fort Oglethorpe).
- Website: www.homeimproverclub.com
- “To celebrate Earth Day, the Home Depot is running an eco-options Earth Day event to drive awareness and excitement surrounding organic gardening, energy and water conservation.” — Jada Nelson, assistant store manager at The Home Depot Gunbarrel Road
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...