Thousands mobbed the Third Street Promenade Saturday, April 14, to participate in the annual Earth Day celebration. This year’s theme was “Step It Up” – a reference to efforts to curb global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to a level 80 percent below the level of 1990.
Exhibitors of everything “green” lined the Promenade. Sponsors and Exhibits Coordinator Kacy Palmieri of Earth Day Los Angeles told the Mirror that the Earth Day festivities “have grown in popularity” every year since 2003 when Earth Day on the Promenade began. Although crowds have grown, there have always been between 65 and 75 booths; that cannot grow because exhibit space on the Promenade is limited.
In the beginning there were more nonprofits among the exhibitors, but now there is more of a balance between nonprofits and manufacturers of green materials. In deciding what manufacturers could exhibit, organizers “looked beyond what they were selling to how they manufactured their products” and whether they were becoming “carbon-neutral,” that is, whether their business activity reduced/offset its CO2 emissions so as to combat global warming. Booth fees were prorated based upon a business’s gross annual income.
Palmieri says the annual event helps “support the local green businesses and gives them a more public voice” and helps train the booths’ visitors to become “more green-conscious consumers.” Among the many exhibitors at Saturday’s “Step It Up” celebration were the following diverse business enterprises.
Taxi! Taxi!, which is the oldest and largest taxi company in Santa Monica, used its booth to get the word out that it is the first and only taxicab company in Los Angeles County to utilize hybrid cars as taxicabs. Wendy Radwan, Director of Client and Public Relations, said the company decided to use hybrid technology to “raise awareness, offer our loyal customers a greener option, lower emissions and decrease operating costs for our drivers.” Taxi! Taxi!’s goal is to have a fleet of 50 percent hybrids and 50 percent alternative-fuel taxicabs, but because of the expense they “will need corporate advertising/sponsorship” and the company is in discussions for that assistance, she said.
Another exhibitor, Cereplast, which has been in business since 2000, displayed products that are 100 percent recyclable because they are 100 percent compostable, especially suitable for take-out restaurants – foodservice single-use items such as cups, plates, bowls, hinged containers and silverware manufactured from its U.S.-made bio-based plastic resin. The company’s Quality Supervisor, Vanessa Garden, said that products made from its resin are not more expensive to use than other plastic foodservice products because the “cost of gasoline to make the other plastic products has gone up.” However, these products are two times more expensive than Styrofoam. Cereplast believes products like its are in the future for Santa Monica’s businesses due to the City’s recent ban on the use of polystyrene in the City.
Greenopia is a company for people who want to be more environmentally conscious but don’t know where to get products or services. Greenopia’s exhibit focused on its “urban dweller’s guide to green living,” a book which makes being green easier because it lists by categories green businesses and resources. It also provides a website for connecting with others who are green-conscious.
City Councilmember Kevin McKeown made some brief remarks at the event’s Solar Stage. He reminded the crowd, “Each of us must do our own small piece, because it is only by working together to reverse the damages of pollution and global warming that we will preserve our planet for our children and their children.”
The event organizers hope to have more events throughout the year between Earth Days. Palmieri mentioned that a Rock Your Planet concert has been organized for the summer at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles “to raise awareness of environmental issues.” Earth Day Los Angeles will provide environmental booths outside of the auditorium at the event.