Earth Day Festival promotes ‘green’ living

Christina Elmore/Staff Mad Science teacher Molly Frizelle teaches siblings Dillon, 7, and Madeline Rowe, 4, about the dangers of water pollution.

Charleston County celebrated all things “green” Saturday at its 13th annual Earth Day Festival.

Adults and children gathered at Riverfront Park on the former Charleston Naval Base to partake in hands-on games and activities while learning ways to care for the environment from their own homes and backyards.

The event included an art contest, science projects and booths from local organizations like Boeing, Pet Helpers, the South Carolina Native Plant Society and Mad Science of Charleston.

Mad Science teacher Molly Frizelle explained the dangers of water pollution to festival attendees. She said people often focus on large tasks, such as cleaning up oil spills, to help the environment, but everyday things like recycling, composting, clipping plastic rings from soda packaging and refraining from littering can have a larger impact.

“It’s the little things that matter, not necessarily the huge things. Little pieces of trash in the ocean like a cigarette butt, can holders or plastic bags that people let fly off boats and into the water do accumulate,” Frizelle said.

South Carolina Native Plant Society member Katie Ellis said people often overlook the role that plant choice plays in the environment while beautifying homes and yards.

Local animals prefer plants indigenous to Charleston’s wetlands and wilderness. Replacing native plants with aggressive “invasive” foliage can overwhelm landscapes to the point of threatening local ecosystems.

Instead of growing exotic species like Japanese honeysuckle and English ivy, try native alternatives like Carolina jessamine and swamp sunflowers.

“A lot of it’s educational. It’s important to make people aware that there are alternatives to what you find in a big-box store. It’s not all about having the perfectly manicured lawn, because that’s kind of a dead ecosystem,” Ellis said.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.