Despite chilly weather, gray skies and soggy ground, hundreds poured into Riverfront Park in North Charleston Saturday for the 14th annual Earth Day Festival.
“I’m amazed at the turnout today,” said Christina Moskos, recycling coordinator for Charleston County and an organizer of the event. “It’s obvious that people are interested in the environment and excited about finding ways they can help save it.”
The event, typically held on the Saturday before the official Earth Day, which is Monday, featured an array of agencies, nonprofits and businesses that offer eco-friendly services, as well as entertainment, food and activities geared toward children.
Outside the festival, dozens of people turned in gas-powered mowers and lawn equipment for vouchers and discounts to buy cleaner, greener equipment, such as battery-powered mowers, at an event spearheaded by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
It was the fifth year that DHEC has held the event, but the first time it was in conjunction with the county’s Earth Day event, according to Richelle Tolton, community liaison for the department.
The old mowers were drained of gas and oil, which will be used for fuel by a local utility, and will be recycled by Charleston Steel & Metal.
Anita Wommack of James Island was among those making the switch.
“I’ve been wanting to switch to an electric (battery-powered) mower for four years, but decided to wait until my (gas-powered) mower croaked,” said Wommack, pronouncing her 10-year-old mower in need of repair dead upon arrival.
“We wanted to switch to an electric mower because it’s better for the environment, creates less noise and requires no gas and oil and less maintenance.”
Along the same lines, electric cars also had a presence at this year’s festival.
People swarmed around two Tesla cars and a Chevrolet Volt parked at the entrance to the park by Richard Williams of Lowcountry EV Drivers, while Morris Nissan’s Danny Shahid was busy answering questions about a Nissan Leaf on display in the park.
Shahid said interest in all-electric vehicles is steadily picking up and, nationally, they are outpacing hybrids after those cars were introduced a decade ago.
Another eco-friendly device, the rain barrel, also is making in-roads in the Charleston area, according to Guinn Garrett of the Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium.
Garrett said rain barrels collect and store stormwater runoff from rooftops, thereby limiting some of the pollutants in yards and streets, such as fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste and oil, from being washed into waterways during deluges. The consortium is currently taking orders for discounted barrels, about $60 each,
The collected water then can be used later to water gardens and yards, instead of using drinking water that costs money.
One of the businesses at Earth Day marked an appropriate debut.
Roadside Blooms, owned by Adam MacConnell and Toni Reale, is merging the ideas of a food truck, farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture) to offer Charleston area residents seasonal flowers grown only in South Carolina.
Their “flower truck” is a 1971 Bedford van made in limited numbers for the ice cream market in Great Britain. MacConnell said he thinks the van is the only one of its kind in the United States.