By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
What it means to be green
Earth Day pic2
The "Bag Man" teaches students about waste by wearing a suit of 360 plastic bags, the amount used by the average American in a year.

Earth Day isn’t until April 22, but Modesto Junior College – and more than 300 festival-goers – couldn’t wait to celebrate all things green this year.

The college on Thursday held its fifth annual Earth Day festival, encouraging attendees to “Live local, live healthy, and think global.”

 “We want to bring some ideas to MJC and the community about what it means to be green and to take care of your planet,” said Liz McInnes, MJC Biology Professor and event co-chair.

Along with Peggy Kroll, an MJC administrator and event co-chair, McInnes looked to build on the success of last year’s event, put on by Project Green under the auspices of the Civic Engagement Program. Earth Day was bigger than ever this year, with more booths, more attendees, and a new, global focus with the International Club collecting funds for the Japan relief effort.

The goal was to encourage new behaviors, McInnes said. Even corporate booths were screened to ensure activities were green-minded, like the faux-kayaking offered at the Valley Sporting Goods booth and the camping and marshmallow toasting offered at REI.

“Our main goal is just to educate,” McInnes said.

Other exhibits included renewable energy vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt and the new Nissan Leaf electric cars, nature-minded non-profits like the Audubon Society and the Tuolumne River Trust, and local food growers and vendors. Planners ensured every aspect of the festival was sustainable, from food packaging to ingredients.

An MJC Career Center booth gave information about green jobs, and a walking exhibit involved an individual wearing 360 plastic bags – the amount an average person goes through in a year – to raise awareness about recycling and reuse.

The bag man was a big hit with students from Modesto schools Freemont Open Plan, Agnes Baptist School and Merryhill School, for whom the Earth Day celebration was a field trip. Those children were given seeds to plant, created Earth-themed artwork, and learned how to live a sustainable life.

“It’s about what they inherit from us,” McInnes said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.