Amid all the peculiar anniversaries this week, ranging from the Oklahoma City bombing and Columbine to the annual obliteration of the 4/20 rituals, it's easy to forget that this is also the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A soggy gathering of the faithful will converge at Civic Center Park today for the 2010 Earth Day Fair, a convergence of recyclers, conservationists, Birkenstocky tree-huggers and others interested in walking a bit more softly on this tired globe.
The mystique of Earth Day has faded considerably since the massive rallies of its early years. Don't expect the same kind of crowds that descended on the park for 4/20, a massive orgy of consumption posing as a political statement. The fair has other objectives; it's actually a pretty good way to get started on spring cleaning, both literally and spiritually.
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Put aside for the moment the goofier aspects of Earth Day gatherings, such as the fair's free samples of "vegan certified products" (but are the vegans certifiable?) and a raffle for a "free detox spa party" (for those who overindulged on 4/20, no doubt). What's left is a group of vendors and nonprofits eager to simplify your life and help you do something positive, however modest, to aid our degraded environment.
You can drop off unwanted clothes and electronics (i.e, laptops, printer cartridges, old cell phones and other "small forms of e-waste"), get some tips on how to save on energy costs, learn about the joys of composting, adopt an abandoned pet -- and schedule a pickup for those nasty chemicals sitting in the basement. Not a bad start, if you're interested in getting out from under the material world that seems to be drowning many of us -- and even if you aren't, a brief wallow in virtue never hurt anybody.
Festivities proceed from 10 am to 2 pm on the west lawn at Civic Center.