Evanston Ecology Center Earth Day Celebration brings family engagement, environmental knowledge


Astry Rodriguez/Daily Senior Staffer

Families engaged with outdoor activities and visited various booths and businesses during the Earth Day Celebration on Saturday.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

At Evanston Ecology Center’s Earth Day Celebration Saturday morning, environmental organizations taught ecological issues. Families engaged in sustainability-focused kids’ activities while local businesses sold food, sweets, plants and handmade accessories Saturday morning.

The event aimed to promote sustainability efforts and celebrate Earth Day and included over 15 organizations that were set up around the event. Organizations such as the Evanston Environmental Association, Climate Action Evanston and the Evanston Northshore Bird Club spoke with attendees about their advocacy work and spread awareness about climate issues and animal preservation.

Evanston’s solid waste coordinator Brian Zimmerman said his team attended the celebration to advocate for sustainability initiatives from the city, like Evanston’s new off-season food and yard waste collection pilot as part of the city’s composting program.

“We came out to promote some of the sustainability-related initiatives that the city is trying to push forward,” said Zimmerman. “(We’re) trying to build some awareness around those things and get some engagement from local community members.”

Outdoor activities featured free books, an interactive bubble station and scavenger hunts. One scavenger hunt sent participants searching for animal figurines hidden around the area, and another pushed attendees to look for items found in nature, like trees, birds, worms and other species.

Katie Knappenberger, who brought her three- and six-year-old children to the event, said her family engaged in many activities both “cool” and environmentally informative.

“One of them is learning how to sort the recycling, which is very age appropriate,” Knappenberger said. “I thought that was a very practical thing that they can do at home.”

The event also offered local businesses the chance to share environmentally friendly products with the community.

Inside the center were a handful of local businesses, such as Cocina Azteca, Dulce Caramel Co. and Journey: One Bar At a Time. Journey owner Misala Calakovic also featured items from her second business, Nu Moda, where she sells crossbody bags, headbands and scrunchies.

“I came here to show what I am creating, and offer an alternative in regards to soaps and ultimately skincare,” Calakovic said. 

Natural Habitat Evanston, a sub-group of the association Climate Action Evanston, gave away free Evanston-native seeds to promote green spaces and advocate for protecting pollinators and birds. 

Leaders from Natural Habitat Evanston also promoted techniques to prevent birds from crashing into windows. Catie Lott, a member of the Natural Habitat Evanston committee, said drawing specific patterns with a bright white marker on windows can help birds evade windows.

“If you have horizontal lines, birds will fly into it, they think they can get within the horizontal lines,” Lott said. “But for vertical lines, birds won’t fly through.”

Nearby booths also offered tips for individual action items. Citizens’ Climate Lobby distributed informational pamphlets and posters about reducing carbon footprint and energy usage. The organization’s table showed examples of alternative light bulbs for lower watt consumption.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago offered promotional materials for kids to learn facts about water, like where it goes after flushing the toilet. The organization provided coloring books and crossword puzzles about the water industry, as well as books focused on other topics like saving the monarch butterfly. 

Knappenberger, who also attended the Earth Day event last year, said she appreciated learning from the many organizations and had a great time with her family. 

“(My kids) definitely have been learning about Earth Day in school, and so it’s fun to bring that into the weekend and celebrate that with our family,” Knappenberger said.

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