Good morning, good morning!
Every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is celebrated across the globe as more than 190 countries come together to promote environmental awareness and take conservation action. Whether on a large scale advocating for national policy or on a smaller scale participating in local trash cleanups, Earth Day unifies people from all walks of life to protect what we all have in common – calling the Earth our home.
Earth Day was originally created in 1970 by Wisconsin junior Senator Gaylord Nelson, Congressman Pete McCloskey, and activist Denis Hayes in an effort to bring environmental awareness to college campuses. They chose April 22nd because it fell between spring break and exams. College students protesting against careless industrial practices such as toxic waste mismanagement gained National attention, leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Soon after, laws such as the National Environmental Education Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act were created. Over fourty years ago, Earth Day activism pioneered environmental awareness and exemplified how important it is to teach the community, especially our youth, how to protect our planet for future generations to come. We’re still fighting the good fight, and the annual Earth Day is our reminder.
This week, there are plenty of ways to get involved with Earth Day locally on St. John. Made up of roughly 60% National Park, it is our responsibility to be stewards of this island. With thousands of visitors each year, St. John needs community and visitors alike to come together and help protect and maintain our little slice of paradise in the Caribbean.
Celebrating their 14th annual Earth Week, Friends of the Park has several events coming up this next week. The 2023 theme “focuses on the beautiful oceans that surround our island home and highlights what each of us can do to make a difference.”
Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park is a nonprofit that “protects and preserves the natural and cultural resources of Virgin Islands National Park while connecting visitors to the Park and the Park to the community.” (from their website)
Saturday, April 15th
There will be beach cleanups across the island from 9am to 12pm. Cleanups will be at Drunk Bay Beach (Salt Pond area), Princess Bay (East End), and Cruz Bay Beach. Meet up times and further information can be found on the Friends of the Park website here. Please remember to bring water and sun protection!
Tuesday, April 18th
Friends of the Park have a Trail Crew Volunteer walk up program every Tuesday and Thursday. Meet up times and location can be found here. On this Tuesday, volunteers will tackle marine debris staging which will be picked up by Dulce Vita Sails and Friends of the Park crew later in the month.
Marine debris staging is a trash cleanup where volunteers will collect the trash (often large debris – even some still left from Hurricane Irma) and leave for boats to pick up at a later date.
Wednesday, April 19th
The Annual Tree Giveaway is from 8am to 9:30 AM at the NPS Visitor Center Pavilion. There will be 400 trees available on a first come, first serve basis. Trees are a vital part of St. John’s ecosystem because they reduce wind impact, purify our air, and create oxygen. This is a popular event, so it’s recommended to arrive before 9 AM.
Also on Thursday, another marine debris staging will be hosted by the Trail Crew Volunteer walk up program. Time and location will be the same as Tuesday.
Friday, April 21
Earth Day Fair and Litter Stomp Parade is from 9am to 12pm at Franklin Powell Park across from the ferry dock. Led by the Litter Critter, St. John’s Earth Day mascot, students from Gifft Hill, Christian Academy, and Julius E. Sprauve will be participating in the Litter Stomp parade decked out in costumes and signage encouraging environmental action against climate change.
The parade route starts in the Park, goes around Connections and Upstairs Bar, towards the Post Office and ends back at the Park. Afterwards, there will be a Litter Stomp Crew Competition, Junior Ranger Awards and Waste Management Recognition.
Watching the sheer joy on the kids’ faces will no doubt be contagious, so be sure to stop by Franklin Powell Park on Friday morning to have your day made. After the parade, be sure to check out all the booths at the Earth Day Fair (also in the Park).
Earth Day Fair Booths (from Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park website)
- Sea Turtle Protection | VINP Sea Turtle Protection team
- Fruit Tree Planting | VINP Trail Crew
- What Friends does | Friends of VINP
- Archaeology in the park | NPS
- Know Your Park | NPS
- Historical Cruz Bay | St John Historical Society
- Meet the Litter Critter, Trivia & Waste Management Best Practices | VIWMA
- Birds, Birds, Birds | Audubon Society
- Recycle Right | Island Green Living
- All About Mangroves | Grimes Lab, UVI
- STEM Tools & Gadgets | VI Epscor
- VI Marine Advisory Service
- Rotary Club of St. John
- Coral Reef Health & Lionfish Threats | CORE Foundation
- CEIBA Strategies, LLC
- VI Reef Response.
- Watershed Management | Coral Bay Community Council
Saturday, April 22nd 🌞 Happy Earth Day!
Technically the last day of Earth Week, there will be a beach cleanup hosted by Get Trashed St. John and Unitarian Universalist Church at Hawksnest Beach from 10 AM to 2 PM.
What Else Can You Do?
After Earth Day (and Earth Week) is over, it’s still important to get involved in any way you can. The EPA’s website has a “Cleanups in my Community” page that provides a list of trash/hazardous waste cleanups in most areas around the US. Earth Day, Ocean Conservancy, and Keep America Beautiful’s official websites have local cleanups listed as well.
Other ways to get involved is to mindfully use the 3 R’s and minimize your carbon footprint.
Reduce your carbon footprint, meaning take the bus or walk instead of driving, if you can.
Reuse water bottles, grocery bags, and bring your own Tupperware when ordering to go food at a restaurant (avoid using single use plastics).
Recycle! Check with your local recycling program to see what’s accepted. Here on St. John, Island Green Living accepts plastics #1, #2, and #5. These resin codes can typically be found underneath the material.
Also, think about joining EarthDay.org’s Canopy Project. The Canopy Project works to reforest areas “in dire need of rehabilitation, including areas with some of the world’s communities most at risk from climate change and environmental degradation.” Every dollar donated supports the planting of one tree.
On St. John, you can help protect our pristine beaches by staying up to date with the Friends of the Park’s website, which provides almost weekly information on how to be environmentally conscious on this island. You can get involved by volunteering with trail crew maintenance or by joining the “Adopt a Turtle” program. Also, make sure to check out their list of reef safe sunscreens.
Island Green Living also has various projects such as recycling, the donation based Resource Depot, and environmental education awareness in local schools.
To residents and visitors alike, I hope you’re able to join us on St. John this week for Friends of the Park’s Earth Day events. If not, please remember to be mindful, use the 3 R’s, and get involved locally, wherever you are!