Happy Earth Day!

On Earth Day XL, green is good. It's come a ways since 1970

Staff writerApril 19, 2009 

— As temperatures soared into the 80s on Saturday, thousands flocked to festivals across the Triangle to celebrate Earth Day and learn how to live greener lives.

The 40th Earth Day officially is Wednesday. Major festivals bookend the day in the Triangle.

Next Saturday, the Durham Earth Day Festival will spread out in downtown Durham. And Cary's Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival at Fred G. Bond Metro Park will feature hands-on Earth Day activities for children and their families.

This weekend, visitors gathered for live music, demonstrations and other offerings on Saturday at Earth Action Day at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, and in Raleigh at Earth Day at the N.C. Museum of Art and the Planet Earth Celebration at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

This was the second year for the Planet Earth Celebration. Co-sponsored by the museum, city of Raleigh and N.C.-based Burt's Bees, visitors were encouraged to hop on Capital Area Transit buses, which were free all day Saturday, instead of driving to the downtown event.

And, at probably the festival's most popular attraction, a constant line formed at a tent to buy Burt's Bees' lotions, soaps, lip glosses and other natural care products at reduced prices as part of the company's 25th anniversary.

"We came here because we wanted to see demonstrations," said Melissa Dalessio of Raleigh. "We wanted to learn more about living green."

Dalessio and her husband, Joe Dalessio, sat in on a demonstration about cleaning with everyday household products instead of harsh chemicals. The three presenters showed how baking soda, vinegar, lemons and borax can take the place of many cleansers. Lemon and salt made the bottom of a copper pot shiny, for instance, and a sock filled with baking soda and stored in a shoe reduced odor.

The Dalessios have been shopping at the Farmers Market and using reusable bags at the grocery store. Now that they're expecting their first child in September, they've become more aware of the chemicals used in some products.

"I found it absolutely fascinating how much vinegar, baking soda and lemons will do," said Melissa Dalessio, 29, a bank manager, who said she'd head to the grocery store later in the day to stock up. "I love how natural it is." Festival-goers popped into tents spread across the Bicentennial Plaza and State Capitol grounds. They bopped to live music and brought their disposable plastic bags to create a giant urban tumbleweed.

"We sell worms," said Allison Honer to passersby curious about what was inside the plastic tubs (kitchen scraps, shredded newspapers, worms and their byproduct) under her tent.

"The kids really love it," said Allison, a high school senior whose mother started Red Hen Enterprises, a North Raleigh worm composting business.

Three juniors from Broughton High School sat at the E-wareness tent, which featured environmentally focused art pieces from Broughton, Millbrook and Sanderson high schools.

For her piece, Cameron Jeutter, a Broughton junior, painted a bike white. Grass grew from a basket attached to the front. Jeutter said her friends are interested in living greener lives.

"The bike symbolizes going green, reducing emissions," she said. "I think the younger age groups are realizing the need to starting doing things to help the environment and the world."

Sarah.lindenfeld@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8983

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