Since 1970, April has been the month for Earth Day. But while the coronavirus pandemic has pushed Pittsburgh’s official, in-person Earth Day festivities to August, organizers have cultivated a virtual alternative for collectively celebrating nature and the need to protect it.
The offerings include recipe, fashion and gardening contests, an online film festival. In the green spirit of recycling, there is even a curated set of environmentally themed talks repurposed from previous Earth Days.
“We still want to celebrate Earth Day in every way that we possibly can,” said event spokesperson Leigh Frank. “We know there’s a ton of ways to do it from the comfort and safety of our own homes.”
Acrobatique Creative Branding Boutique, the group that produces Earth Day events for the City of Pittsburgh, had planned a blowout for the holiday’s 50th anniversary, said Frank. Scheduled events included the long-running Ecolution Eco-Fashion Show; a Sustainable Business Breakfast; a green marketplace, in Market Square; and a family-oriented Growing Up Green Festival, in Schenley Plaza. All of those are now set for August.
But in keeping with the Earth Day spirit during the coronavirus quarantine, the group has devised new online wrinkles including those contests, which go live Monday.
“We think it’s a kind of an interesting time, with people being quarantined, for them to show us what they’re really doing with their creativity, whether it’s through cooking, gardening, [or] fashion,” said Frank.
In the Recycled Design Challenge, contestants will share photos of their wearable designs – jewelry, clothing – made from recycled and up-cycled materials. Likewise the Share Your Best Plant-Based Recipe contest.
The Share Your Garden Challenge, meanwhile, was inspired by the apparent growth in interest in home gardening. “We’ve heard a lot of anecdotal stories about people kind of planting their own gardens for the first time, so we want to see everything from your sprouts and seedlings, to maybe you’ve got big plans for a new garden this year,” said Frank.
Meanwhile, already in swing is the Virtual Eco-Film Showcase, which includes both real-time film-based events and a grab-bag of streaming online experiences. On Friday, Phipps Conservatory hosts an online showing of the PBS documentary “Plastic Wars,” about the plastics industry and its environmental toll, followed by an online discussion. On Wed., April 22 – Earth Day proper – Row House Cinema will host a special, ticketed online stream of “Earth,” a new documentary about how humans exploit nature in mines, quarries and construction sites.
The showcase also features a curated list of environmentally themed films to watch online, ranging from selections from the nationally based Environmental Film Festival and PBS’s “The American Experience: Rachel Carson” to Hollywood fare like “The China Syndrome” and “Erin Brockovich.”
Virtual Eco Biz Buzz rounds up talks and more on sustainability initiatives throughout the region. Pittsburgh Earth Day also provides a long list of online activities, from watching livestreamed penguins at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Ask A Scientist series, to home-based activities offered by Phipps, the National Aviary, and others.
Phipps, in fact, hosts its own Virtual Earth Day Experience on Wednesday. And harking to the activism of the original Earth Day, Pittsburgh Earth Day shares links to Pittsburgh Earth Week Coalition events including its virtual climate strike, Youth Climate Strike, and virtual teach-in.