A new "water bar" will be a focal point of this year's Rogue Valley Earth Day celebration on April 25, billed as a zero-waste event.
"It's possible to be creative and hydrate people," says Risa Buck, an event organizer and waste reduction educator with Ashland Sanitary and Recycling.
Buck took the idea from a festival she attended in Austin, Texas, last year. It's "painful," Buck says, to see how may plastic water bottles are thrown away in the Rogue Valley and elsewhere. Event posters urge participants to bring their own beverage containers to fill up free of charge.
Buck says she hopes future events will feature durable plates, cups and utensils for use at food stands, all locally owned serving locally grown and primarily organic food. For now, vendors provide biodegradable ware made from corn and potato starch and sugarcane fiber. Shredding the items for compost is one of numerous Earth Day activities.
"You're making it into something your community can use the next year," Buck says.
The composting demonstration is just one way event-goers learn how to reduce waste, says Paige Prewett, event manager and program coordinator for Jackson County SMART Business Program. All exhibits must demonstrate some aspect of environmental stewardship or sustainable living, Prewett says, adding that exhibitors aren't allowed to sell anything.
"We don't need to leave with more things, just leaving with ideas ... is enough."
Offering dozens of "green" resources for adults, the ninth annual celebration also captivates kids, who receive "eco-quest" tags made from old compact discs. Children are encouraged to complete the same number of activities as their age. Popular attractions include a craft station, which employs all recycled materials and a cardboard village made from recycled cardboard.
Artists, students and recyclers are encouraged to create fashionable outfits from garbage and recyclables to be modeled at the "Trashion" Show on the stage at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. Participants can create their own outfits or join a team to design recycled attire. To learn more about the Trashion show, call Jane Hickinbotham at 890-1618 or Elib Crist-Dwyer at 535-7855.
The approximately 3,000 people expected to attend can ride a free Rogue Valley Transportation District shuttle to Ashland's ScienceWorks. The shuttle returns to Medford twice throughout the day. Organizers also encourage walking, biking, carpooling and shuttling.
Admission to outdoor activities is free. Admission to exhibits inside the museum is $7.50 for adults, $5 for kids ages 2 to 12, as well as for seniors. One dollar of each museum admission directly supports the event.