Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's an East Bay Earth Day Party: A Roundup of Local Earth Day Events and Promotions

By Anneli Rufus
Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 7:54 AM

A lot of local businesses are doing their bit for Earth Day — which falls this year on April 22 — with special projects, programs, discounts, and deals. It's their version of Earthday cakes, Earthday candles, and Earthday gifts — and we're all invited to the Earth Day party. Here's a roundup:

On Sunday, April 17, Livermore's Wente Vineyards is hosting a full day of Earth Day-themed activities. These include free guided tours of its extensive property, including the newly re-awarded Audubon Sanctuary and lavish garden, led by Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk. Other attractions on that day include live music, sustainability lectures, a worm-composting station, workshops for kids on making jewelry from recycled materials, wine tastings, a special dinner at Wente's restaurant featuring fresh garden ingredients, and more.

"Earth Day is a time to reflect on promoting respect for life and encourage awareness for air, water and soil pollution. Wente Vineyards is celebrating the day to highlight their ongoing sustainability efforts and green initiatives," reads an invitation to Wente's event.

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Berkeley's all-vegetarian build-your-own-felafel hotspot, Maoz, is donating part of its Earth Day proceeds to the Bay Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network (BEACN), a UC Berkeley-based nonprofit that specializes in sustainable-business consultation. Its staff advises local business owners and prospective business owners on greening their operations, developing sustainable business plans, and doing what it takes to earn official Green Business certification.

A Maoz felafel.
  • A Maoz felafel.

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Chipotle restaurants throughout California and Nevada are participating in an Earth Day "Lights Out" campaign to raise awareness and save energy. On April 22, the restaurants will turn off their front-of-house lights (leaving kitchen lights on so that they can still cook) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. "This daylight harvesting lowers costs and reduces the pollution generated by producing electricity — in turn making whatever you order here that much more environmentally responsible," reads a flier for the program.

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From Tuesday, April 19 to Saturday, April 23, eVe restaurant will knock 10 percent off the tabs of all diners who can offer proof that they used an earth-friendly mode of transportation to get there. Ticket stubs from BART or AC Transit are valid — or show them your bike. Proving that you walked to the Gourmet Gulch neo-artisanal eatery known far and wide for its molecular-gastronomy marvels is a little more difficult, but you could offer to let the staff feel or sniff the perspiration under your arms if at first they don't believe you.

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The East Bay Regional Park District, in cooperation with California State Parks, will host an Earth Day dedication of the Berkeley Meadow at Eastshore State Park on Saturday, April 16. East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Whitney Dotson will MC the event and elected officials including Senator Loni Hancock, AssemblywomanNancy Skinner, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates are scheduled to speak.

Following the dedication, which will take place at 11:30 a.m., staff members will lead an interpretive walk in the 72-acre meadow, a former landfill site that was restored in three phases over five years at a cost of $6,000,000. The finished meadow has seasonal wetlands, coastal prairie, and coastal scrub areas. Now it's a habitat for many species of plants and animals, with walking paths and interpretive signs welcoming the public.

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Berkeley's Earth Day festival will take place in Civic Center Park on Saturday, April 23. The City of Oakland is hosting cleanup projects on Saturday, April 16 at forty different locations around town. El Cerrito's Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 16 includes cleanups, talks, and film screenings.

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Across the bay, San Francisco Optics is offering 25 percent off all eyewear on Earth Day. And if you arrive at the shop on April 22 with an eco-friendly product of any kind — or demonstrate in any way that you are supporting the environment — you will receive a free sport loop with any purchase. This accessory makes riding bikes while wearing spectacles that much easier.

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Camelbak, a Northern California-based sports-bottle company founded by a pair of formerly thirsty cyclists, creates and participates in many projects all year round to stay green and connect people with the outdoors. Camelbak's Petaluma offices are LEED-certified — and for Earth Day this year, they're launching a new product, the Groove portable-filtration device, which keeps you hydrated anywhere in the world with yummy-tasting filtered water while on the move and far from the nearest faucet or uber-clean Artesian spring. A Pepperdine University study recently found that that Groove's Big Bite Valve keeps users up to 24 percent more hydrated.

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The first-ever Berkeley Vegan Earth Day, taking place on Friday, April 22 in Room 112 of UC Berkeley's Wurster Hall, includes a screening of the award-winning documentary Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction and a panel discussion featuring the film's executive producer David Ulansey along with Katherine Connors of the Food Empowerment Project, Alex Eaves of Stay Vocal, and Hope Bohanec from In Defense of Animals. A catered vegan reception offsets the horror of mass extinction for at least a little while.

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Asked about Earth Day plans at Berkeley's award-winning and much-discussed Gather restaurant, co-owner Eric Fenster told us:

"We are not planning anything special for Earth Day because in our view every day is Earth Day."

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