Celebrate Earth Day by doing something earthy

Learn how to reduce your impact on Mother Earth at Charleston County’s 17th annual Earth Day Festival on Saturday.

Even though Earth Day dates back to 1970, it really didn’t become a widespread annual event until its 20th anniversary in 1990.

Since its origin, Earth Day has evolved from a “teach in”demonstration designed to put environmental issues on the national agenda to an opportunity for corporations (some far from eco-friendly) to greenwash their public image in the 1990s.

Today’s version has a little of both, but it has matured in the past decade to one that is actually fairly grassroots, interactive and constructive.

While the official Earth Day is April 22, the Saturday closest to that date often is the unofficial date for celebrations.

In the greater Charleston area, Earth Day has started to become Earth Month, as the College of Charleston (which is making great strides in a drive to be a “zero waste” campus) kicks off April with its Sustainability Week and the Medical University of South Carolina holds an early Earth Day event.

In between, there are Earth Day-oriented events, including litter pick-ups, an outdoor extravaganza and film festivals, such as last weekend’s Banff Mountain Film Festival (benefiting the Nature Conservancy).

Earth Day truly is becoming, as it should be, every day.

The one constant in the Lowcountry over the past two decades, however, has been Charleston County annual Earth Day Festival, which is in its 17th year. The event draws about 8,000.

The event, which is free, will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. This year’s theme is “Be Earth Smart.”

Among the activities are resources on clean energy, local and organic agriculture, conservation, litter control and pick-up, recycling and composting, free seedlings and compost, as well as art, musical performances and food.

http://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/environmental-management/earthday.php

Appropriately, the spotlight race this weekend is a trail run.

The sixth annual Mullet Haul, featuring a 10K, 10K relay and 5K runs at Mullet Hall Equestrian Center on Johns Island, was moved from early March to April 23.

The race gives people a chance to experience trails at the center, which is usually reserved for horse owners, trail riding and equestrian events. Mullet Hall is at 2662 Mullet Hall Road, off of River Road, on Johns Island.

All races begin at 8:30 a.m. Afterward, awards will be presented for the top runners, and all participants will be invited to enjoy a post-race breakfast and cold beverages.

This year’s event serves as the kickoff for the Fit Family Challenge, an eight-week healthy lifestyle program for families. The challenge is free and offers a mobile-friendly activity tracker, community exercise classes, expert fitness advice and nutrition tips for families. For information on the Fit Family Challenge or to register, visit myfitfamilychallenge.com.

The Mullet Haul is for ages 10 and older. Participants ages 10-15 must be accompanied by an adult. Dogs and strollers are not allowed at this event. Fees range from $28 to $50 depending on the event and registrant’s residence.

www.charlestoncountyparks.com/mullethaul

The Mu Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity also will hold its third annual O.C.C.U.P. (Omegas of Charleston Community Uplift Project) 5K event 8 a.m. to noon at Hampton Park. The actual run will start at 9 a.m.

The fee is $10-$15 for adults. Youths under 17 are free. Proceeds go to paying for 10 boys, ages 8 to 14, to attend a summer camp in North Carolina at no cost to their families. Seven boys will be chosen from Mitchell Math and Science Elementary School and three from Charleston Development Academy.

For more information, contact Reginald L. Terry, a prevention specialist at Mitchell Math and Science Elementary, at 843-958-8791.

In its fifth year, locals can volunteer for a marsh cleanup 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. The cleanup is being organized by Belk, Eco Swim by Aqua Green and United by Blue.

All volunteers will be provided with event T-shirts, breakfast, snacks, water, trash bags, gloves and sunscreen. Volunteers are strongly advised to wear closed-toe, supportive shoes.

Last season, these three sustainable-minded companies and their 40 volunteers picked up 813 pounds of garbage and recyclables and laid the foundation for a new oyster reef using more than 15,000 pounds of oyster shells.

www.belkcleanup.ticketleap.com/april232016

Cypress Gardens, which is still closed from the floods of last October, will hold a volunteer day 9 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturday at the park, located at 3030 Cypress Gardens Road in Moncks Corner.

According to a Facebook post on the event, “there is still plenty of trail debris to be removed. Make sure to wear your gloves! There will also be opportunities to paint so wear some old clothes. We are looking forward to a great time on a beautiful spring day. We will provide water for everyone to drink. Please plan to bring your lunch. Please go to our website and fill out a volunteer form if you have not already.”

Also, bring sturdy shoes, gloves, rakes, pruners, loppers, hand pruning saws/extension pole saws, bug spray, sunscreen, lunch for yourself or family. Because of the nature of the cleanup, the effort is asking people not to bring children age 8 or younger.

www.cypressgardens.info

In a new effort to focus on teaching adults how to swim, the recreation departments of the cities of Charleston and North Charleston and LAPS (Lowcountry Aquatic Program Swimming) will hold the second annual Lowcountry’s Largest Adult Swim lesson.

The event, to be held 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, is free. The lessons will be held at Danny Jones Pool, 1445 Monitor St. in North Charleston and Martin Luther King Jr. Pool, 155 Jackson St. in Charleston.