COVID-19 Can't Stop Earth Week In Kalamazoo

Apr 19, 2020

A sign at a climate strike in September 2019
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK


Shutdown or no shutdown, this is Earth Week, with the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day on Wednesday. Environmental groups in Kalamazoo are marking it with a slate of virtual events, from a “History of Earth Day” video series to a “Climate Crisis Town Hall,” sessions on green eating and gardening, and a virtual tour of a very energy-efficient house in Portage.

Two organizers told WMUK about their how their online events will work.

“Science While Sheltering”

The Kalamazoo Nature Center will share a video on Facebook Tuesday at 3 pm showing how people with no science background can help gather data for several ecological studies. KNC Community Science Director Jen Meilinger says one project has people monitor birds’ nests.

“Say you go out on a walk with your family, you find a nest, it’s fun for the kids to look in the nest and count how many babies are in there or how many eggs are in there,” she said.

“It’s little to no previous knowledge required. We like to say, ‘no PhD, no problem!’ However, any PhDs out there are welcome to join the project,” she added.

Another study uses trail cameras to track wildlife around Michigan. It needs volunteers to help look through photos on the web.

“A Day With Less Plastic”

The organizer of another virtual event, Amelia Stefanac, hoped to fight plastic pollution by giving out reusable bags. Now she’s directing people to a petition asking for a hearing on a bill in the Michigan legislature. It would undo the state’s ban on local plastic bag fees.

Stefanac says the bill needs the support of the House Local Government Committee, “so that this can have a chance to move forward and eventually give cities in Michigan back the right to regulate the use of plastic bags in their communities,” she said.

The petition on the Kalamazoo Earth Week webpage also calls for making more kinds of plastic bottles returnable in Michigan.

“This is something that they have currently in Oregon and other states, and they have just such a higher return rate for their plastic recycling,” Stefanac said.

She’s also directing people to a project where they can make a short video encouraging lawmakers to reduce plastic pollution.