Finding out that my beloved seaside hamlet did not technically invent my favorite holiday celebrating planet Earth was one of the bigger disappointments of my life. I don’t blame myself for the confusion, however, because Santa Barbara does a fantastic job of perpetuating the urban legend by throwing one of the most entertaining and educational parties of the year – and manages to make it completely solar-powered and zero-waste, at that. (Congrats, Community Environmental Council!).

Committed to my self-proclaimed role as the Holiday Enforcer, I skipped down to the Sunken Gardens last Sunday, April 20, – resisting reference: resiiiisting reference! – with thousands of others equally determined to dance, eat, and raise a toast to Mother Nature, while learning about the myriad ways one can “Reduce your Eco-footprint,” in accordance with this year’s theme. Anxious to socialize with like-minded peeps, I quickly found myself in Elements’ organic beer and wine-tasting garden, where for the sake of investigative journalism, I felt compelled to sample quite a few. And I couldn’t resist the call of the festival staples – the guacamole, the kettle corn, the face-painting and bubbles booth. KJEE’s dunk tank, featuring tween volunteer dunkee Thomas Jessup was a hilarious distraction. Once sated, fed, and decorated, I began to make my way about the grounds.

After a quick computer quiz determined that if everyone on the planet lived my lifestyle we would need 6.15 Earths – eek! – I hit up the educational booths to learn more about sustainable living. I signed up for email action alerts from every nonprofit, memorized the downtown Farmers’ Market days, and even swore to finally figure out how to read a bus schedule. Going green is all the rage these days, and the clothing and accessories are cute and comfy, so I found myself reaching for my wallet at stands like Horny Toad, Hempwise, and Babes in Fairyland. (Everyone needs a crown of flowers!)

I consider myself pretty well-informed, I love me some nature, and living in Santa Barbara it’s easy to choose greener options for a lot of lifestyle choices. But after talking to a “polar bear” at the SBCreeks table, sampling the delicious organic and locally-grown strawberries at the mini-Farmers Market, and watching kids breaking a sweat on a specially-designed stationary bike that demonstrates how much energy could be saved from buying local produce, I realized how even the smallest choices add up to make a huge difference.

So here’s to furthering environmental education for all those adorable youngsters that were dancing onstage with butterfly wings and faces painted, here’s to bravely making some of those eco-loving choices, and here’s to walking a little lighter on my Mama Tierra.


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