Sunday’s 2008 Earth Day Celebration, presented by Nevada EcoNet, at Idlewild Park in Reno rallied hundreds of businesses and residents together to promote the conservation of the planet’s natural resources and to find more efficient ways of helping residents save money on their water and electric bills.
The family event featured electric car and bike displays, information booths and activities for adults and kids alike.
“This is the best turnout I’ve seen,” said Cynthia Jesse of Reno, who was there to enjoy the festivities and help raise awareness. “It’s just about being involved and seeing all the different ways you could help (conserve), and the fact that Reno is getting involved is neat. It’s wanted, it’s needed, it’s happening.”
Natalie Sellers, a chef and an owner of 4th St. Bistro in Reno, serves organic, sustainable produce in her restaurant. Sellers is conscious of recycling of all materials, even if the bistro isn’t serviced much by Waste Management. For her, it’s all about going green.
“Waste Management doesn’t (serve) a majority of restaurants,” Sellers said. “So they’ll do glass pick-up, but plastic, tin, and aluminum, I’ll take myself.”
Sellers previously worked in an externship at Chez Panisse in San Francisco, a city that she said is already aware of the importance of preserving the land’s natural resources. But Reno needed help, she explained.
“You have to make things happen,” she said.
As residents perused the booths and read fliers and brochures on how to save money, energy and water, they talked with businesses about what they could do.
Tim Kiersz, the supervisor of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Group of Sierra Pacific Power Co., said simple modicifications are effective in keeping rates low for consumers.
“The main focus is really to keep clean, safe electricity at a reasonable, predictable price,” Kiersz said.
SPPC is planning to expand its current 310-megawatt-hour plan to 1000 megawatts by increasing wind and geothermal energy by 2012. One megawatt can power up to 600 homes.
SPPC and Waste Management recently partnered to provide a recycling program for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Concerns about trace amounts of mercury, an average of 5 milligrams per bulb, and its insufficient use of energy – about 75 percent less than standard incandescent bulbs – have made CFLs obsolete.
The company also called for a 4.6 percent decrease in electric rates for northern Nevada residents and 5.5 percent decrease in natural gas rates for Reno-Sparks customers in February.
Kiersz said stabilizing electric rates is important to help the customers learn to conserve.
“They can do things like recycle their CFLs, lower their thermostat, clean their toilets and refrigerators, check their water heaters and shower heads,” he said. “If they change their light bulbs, they save 10 to 15 percent on their electric bills. That’s the quickest payback.”
Other professionals at the fair encouraged residents to enjoy Nevada’s natural landscapes as part of appreciating Earth.
Margie Reynolds, vice president of Black Rock/High Rock, manned a table to educate visitors on the Black Rock Desert, citing Sunday’s celebration as the group’s most productive event of the year.
“Earth Day is important to me because it brings the community together and it builds momentum for awareness,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds’ table with the Bureau of Land Management offered a raffle for tickets to Burning Man to encourage people to spend time out in the desert.
“People think there’s nothing out there, but it’s beautiful,” she said, showing photos of Fly Geiser, which was shown in an array of rainbow colors.
The celebration also offered workshops on landscaping in dry climates and alternative transportation. Visitors were impressed by the wealth of information available at Sunday’s festivities.
“It’s good to learn about this green technology,” Dan Lucas, who helps run a news and political talk show called the Voice Box with the University of Nevada, Reno. “It’s a celebration of what we should be doing with the earth every day.”
Lauren Siegel, executive director of EcoNet, said adopting a lifestyle that incorporates conservation doesn’t have to be difficult.
“If you’re into food or hiking or biking, get involved in an organization that supports it,” she said.
“People don’t have to change a lot,” Siegel said. “You can just choose different people to do business with. It’s low impact.”
For more information, visit www.nevadaeconet.org.