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Make some time for the planet on Earth Day

New this year: a recycling program for old gym shoes.

Smelly, tattered sneakers can find new life in the gym, as a sports court floor.

Islander Joan Vassiliadis is collecting tennis shoes for the Re-use-a-shoe program, which turns ground-up old sneakers into sports courts that sponsor Nike donates to communities.

“I want to recycle as much as I can. I hate throwing things in the trash,” said Vassiliadis, who describes shoe recycling as a longtime dream.

Earth Day 2004 is officially April 22, although activities sponsored by various Bainbridge groups began last Saturday and run through this weekend. Events range from educational exhibits and kids’ activities at the Earth Day Fair at Town and Country, to ivy pulls and road clean-ups.

Vassiliadis says the response to her project has been terrific.

“My first contact was Bain?

bridge Disposal, and (they) said ‘Wow, this sounds like a good idea,’” she said. Bainbrige Disposal supplied the collection bins that are now at island schools and Island Fitness health club; sneakers will be held until there are 5,000 pairs for Nike to pick up.

Organizing Earth Day activities again this year is Kat Gjovik.

“The best Earth Day I can imagine is one we start organizing a year in advance and (get to) see it as a tradition in our community,” she said.

At the same time, Gjovik likes to encourage the grassroots nature of Earth Day and ask people to come up with their own way to celebrate rather than orchestrate activities. Many businesses make Earth Day displays, like Town and Country’s Organic Food Fair, which runs through April 27.

“(Earth Day is) an opportunity to stop and look at the things we might do (for the planet) and what’s already being done,” Gjovik said.

Earth Day should focus not just on the environment, she said, but also issues like socio-economic justice, peace, non-violence and democracy, tenets promoted by Earth Charter, which Gjovik coordinates in the Seattle-area.

“I don’t think we can look at the environment without looking at the other pieces,” she said.

Ivy pulls

Jeannette Franks hopes that many who want a work-out will join her in pulling invasive, non-native ivy. The IslandWood education center, the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District and the Bainbridge/North Kitsap Interfaith Council are sponsoring pulls this week.

The vines hurt slope stabilization, Frank says, because ivy chokes out the biodiversity of native plants that help prevent erosion and landslides.

“It can be very therapeutic to use your aggressions to pull out ivy,” Frank said.

Although the city does not have any official events, volunteers of the roadside litter pickup group Adopt A Road will be honored on April 21 at City Hall, along with partners including Bainbridge Disposal, which provides free disposal of the litter.

Gjovik cites as standout volunteers John Murray, Phil Jeter and Ken Fox, who she says just pick up a stretch of road for which they’ve received a report, and organize groups for bigger jobs. Volunteers have hauled away “litter” as large as a mattresses and old appliances.

Dave Peters, Kitsap County recycling coordinator, will also be at the City Hall event for a discussion on restarting a litter prevention program.

“The ‘Keep America Beautiful’ (campaign) was great at raising awareness,” Gjovik said. “I’d like to work ourselves out of jobs!”

Gathering together a variety of exhibits is the annual Community Earth Day Fair on the April 24. Gjovik is enthusiastic in her praise of T&C for stepping forward each year to provide free exhibition space and “be the catalyst to bring together a collection of activities.”

This year is T&C’s fifth year hosting the Community Earth Day Fair. The store’s environmental coordinator, Sue Williams, said “recognizing our commitment to the environment” is part of T&C’s corporate mission. “We try to recycle as much as possible and use Earth-friendly supplies,” Williams said. “Earth Day is a perfect time for people to come together and share information.”

At the fair, visitors can enjoy music by local musician Tom Herring while learning about environmentally clean biodiesel from Imagine Energy, pesticide-free gardening and lawn care from Natural Landscapes, donate old sneakers (no cleats) at Vassiliadis’ Reuse-a-shoe booth, or sample organic foods.

Tim Lowell will have a stepping stone-making activity for kids using concrete and beach glass.

Among other exhibitors, Kitsap County promotes its “2 Good 2 Toss” web-based service for reusable building materials and large household items.

People with ready-to-toss furniture can give it a ride to the free furniture disposal offered at the Olympic View Transfer Station in Port Orchard on the 25th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is “lots happening on the island,” Gjovik said. “Earth Day is a place to give visibility to seeing the big picture.”

* * * * *

Go outside

Earth Day activities include:

April 21

Adopt-A-Road meeting: A discussion of how to prevent littering with special speaker Dave Peters, Kitsap County Recycling Coordinator. It will also honor volunteers and partners, including Bainbridge Disposal, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at City Hall

April 21-27

Town and Country In-Store Organic Food Fair: samples and demonstrations

April 24

Community Earth Day Fair: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Town and Country’s Winslow Way parking lot

Bainbridge Garden Club Plant Sale: 9 a.m. to noon at the northwest corner of Ace Hardware parking lot.

Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District: Ivy pull at four locations –Gazzam Lake, Fairy Dell at Battle Point, Joel Pritchard Park, and Blakely Harbor Park, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Bainbridge Interfaith Council Earth Work Party: Scotch Broom pull and potluck, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lovgreen Farm, corner of 305/Day Road.

Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District: Trail-making project at the Close property, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

April 25

Ivy Pull at IslandWood, 1-3 p.m. (park at Blakely and Country Club Road).

Kitsap County Public Works: Free Furniture Disposal Day – Furniture Amnesty Day is April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A one-day-only event at the Olympic View Transfer Station, across Highway 3 from Bremerton National Airport.

For more information on acceptable items, see www.kitsapgov.com/sw or call (360) 337-5777.

Nature, nurtured

Almost all local schools are promoting activities for Earth Day education. Woodward Middle School had its annual litter pick-up event last week, while a group of Bainbridge high schoolers participated in a waterfront cleanup at Bremerton ferry.

Wilkes Elementary School students will prepare soil to plant sunflower seeds and start a new lunchtime recycling campaign to recycle plastic, aluminum and tin.

Sakai Intermediate School is challenging its sixth-graders to complete as many Earth-friendly activities as possible over four days to collect 30 points each. Students can go to an Earth Day event, pull ivy, set up a compost bin or take grocery sacks to be recycled.

Marie Marrs, a Sakai sixth grade social studies/language arts teacher, says for the current semester on “contemporary issues,” students choose to study an environmental issue.

“I figure environmental issues are social, people issues, too,” Marrs said. “Earth Day is just another part of our whole focus.”

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