Earth Day brings people in Pensacola together

By Juliana Liévano Uribe
Staff Writer

The Earth Day Pensacola celebration, at Bayview Park on April 22, brought people from different backgrounds together for education and environmental awareness.

According to the organization’s website, Earth Day Pensacola is part of a larger effort with the Earth Day Network that has developed more ways for people to participate not only locally, but internationally as well. This year’s themes were energy, sustainability and transportation.

Informative science posters were displayed around the park with tips such as: “Sweat doesn’t smell bad! Body odor is caused when the skin bacteria feed on sweat.”

The event featured various activities such as yoga; a kids’ area with games; live music; and food. Vendors sold items from organic food to stones and jewelry.

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Some scientists sat on platforms with posters that explained the environmental threats in Pensacola. One of them was marine biologist Jacqueline Lane, who was talking about Perdido Bay’s pollution and risks to the environment.

“Perdido Bay is a great source of pollution,” Lane said. “They [International Paper] stopped the use of chlorine and started using chlorine dioxide, which is now known to be toxic, too.”

Lane also said IP added a pipeline in 2000 which has killed 90 percent of the trees and that they’re making at least one-third more of wood pulp. The seagrass found in the bay is also red instead of green, and she said it was because of the chemicals in the water.

Lane also said the University of West Florida has not been a big pollution fighter. She said John Pace – as in the John Pace Library at UWF – founded the paper mill, and that the Pace family owns many properties around the area.

“This country has resisted has resisted so much change,” she said.

In addition to scientists, others were on hand with educational information. George Shelton, from The Pensacola Organic Gardener’s Club, talked with people about the benefits of composting and growing your own vegetables.

The club has been around since 1970, Shelton said. “We meet every month. We usually have lectures and potlucks. We stay with the basics, teaching people soil.”

Shelton grows everything from coffee to cacao. He said his favorite vegetables to grow are Italian vegetables because of our fair climate.

Shelton also informed people where they could compost if they didn’t want to do it at home. “The Equestrian Center has a compost pile the size of a house, and it’s free,” he said. For details, visit the website.

Shelton said Earth Day had been good for the club and that they gave away more than 150 cards, so they anticipate new members.

Other people volunteered at the event, teaching kids about science.

“I’m volunteering with the Pensacola Mess Hall teaching kids about science,” said Emily Senn, a UWF junior maritime studies student. “I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s a very family-oriented event.”

For more photos of the event, visit Earth Day Pensacola’s Facebook page.