Earth Day 2017, the 47th such day since the event was first held in 1970, was perhaps less a celebration this time around and more a chance to take note of the dangers of climate change and changing political winds. That was true at big events like the March for Science in Washington, D.C., where some tens of thousands gathered, along with smaller, community-centric events like Get Green South Bronx Earth Fest, where local organizations offered educational programs on environmental programs like recycling.
And it was true at another small event in Chelsea near the High Line, where sponsors set up a “Sustainability and Social Good Pop-Up” event in honor of Mother Earth. There a DJ spun summer tunes while vendors gave away free goodies to those brave enough to face the rainy and dreary weather. Among them was Adam Duflo, 26, and his girlfriend Olivia Lee, 24, who spend most of their weekends taking the train out of the city to hike in places like the Appalachian Trial.
“It’s Earth Day so I wanted to do something for it, since I am an outdoors person and I love backpacking, hiking, and rock climbing,” Duflo said. Celebrations aside, one thing deeply concerns Duflo—climate change deniers. With Scott Pruitt directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Duflo fears that President Donald Trump can effectively halt all the environmental progress former president Barack Obama made during his time in office.
“The environment is not something you can rebuild,” Duflo said. “People need to treat it well because it was here before us and it will be here long after us. We need to respect that.”
Dannie Dinh also stopped by the small event, after attending the March for Science downtown, which was part of a coordinated protest in major cities, with more than 600 cities involved worldwide. The NYC March brought together thousands of scientists, supporters and environmental enthusiasts to protest Trump’s approach to science and his proposed cutbacks to science-related programs.
Dinh’s sign, which she carried for the march read, “Make America Scientific Again,” and she said she attended the march to emphasize that the climate impacts everyone’s lives. “Science at its core is not partisan or political. You can’t pick and choose because it is a fact,” said Dinh, 25, who said only that she works at a climate research institute.
One of the vendors at the event giving away free samples and discounted products was Health-Ade Kombucha, a fizzy drink made of fermented tea, which aims to cleanse the digestive system. Annamaria Castro, 22, and her mom Teri were working the booth as brand ambassadors and were giving out samples of ginger, green, pink lady, and pomegranate kombucha.
The Chelsea event was organized by Earth Day Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to promote environmental awareness and solutions through partnerships with schools, community organizations, businesses, and governments.
A constant stream of people could be seen wandering through the artfully decorated warehouse, where paintings of nature and inspirational sayings brightened the gray day.
Although the event was small, it drew a surprising number of enthusiastic environmentalists from diverse backgrounds. A group of five teens, for example, visited each vendor and left with smiles and goodie bags. “It’s great to be able to get out in a city like New York and still be a part of Earth Day,” said Tuhina Kazi, 18, who brought her friends with her to the event.
As Duflo prepared to leave, fresh Kombucha in hand, he said, “We need to be more active in cleaning up our earth in order to survive.”