EarthFest Celebrates, Encourages Sustainability


Pete Carels and Bill Dickman play percussion instruments made from recycled materials. Photo by Caroline Roethlisberger

Uptown Park was lively with EarthFest visitors last Saturday, April 27, exploring the maze of educational booths and activities, learning about ways to help preserve the planet.

From 9 a.m.-1 p.m.,  about 30 green organizations from Oxford and Miami University presented at educational booths and lead interactive activities.

Representing the Talawanda High School Environment and Natural Sciences Club, Michelle Miao, Rita Zhouwang and Jean Pateman explained how to reuse food scraps by re-growing green onions in water. They also offered a variety of plants including beets, peas, arugula, and cilantro, for visitors to take home.  

At the Miami University EcoReps’ table, students made smoothies using a bike-powered blender.

Joan Potter-Sommer from the Oxford Seniors Ecology Club presented information about environmentally-friendly sunscreens. She advised sunscreen wearers to avoid products made with Octinoxate and Oxybenzone, which bleach and kill coral reefs.

Instead, “It’s better to use sunscreen made with zinc and titanium”, said Potter-Sommer.

Pete Carels and Bill Dickman from OGADE, the Oxford Gourd and Drum Ensemble, invited participants to make their own rhythms with recycled materials like plastic bottles and tin cans.

Carels creates his own recycled instruments and tests each container to ensure it has the right sound. He made his newest invention, a replica of a Brazilian cuica, from a cylindrical plastic container and a straw.

Carels and his OGADE peers perform at the Oxford Community Arts Center’s Second Friday Celebrations.

Olivia Bauer, editor-in-chief of GreenHawks Media, asks EarthFest attendees to reflect on sustainability. Photo by Caroline Roethlisberger
The Oxford Seniors Ecology Club demonstrates how to choose environmentally friendly sunscreen. Photo by Caroline Roethlisberger

A few booths away, The BEEPS Foundation raffled reusable bags and other environmentally-friendly gear. Marlene Eldemire started the organization in memory of her daughter, Becca, a former junior at Miami, shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2015.

“She was all about the environment and sustainability,” said Eldemire.

The group works to carry on Becca’s legacy by doing small educational events and initiatives about being environmentally-friendly.

One of their projects includes working with Miami students to create a garden in the back of the McGuffey Museum.  

Olivia Bauer, editor-in-chief of GreenHawks Media, a sponsor of the event, encouraged visitors to reflect on what sustainability means to them by writing it down on a poster.  

To Victoria Negrón, a Miami sophomore who attended the event, sustainability means: “Protecting the resources we have by finding alternatives to the unsustainable growth of industry that has been depleting our resources,” said Negrón.

She wants to see Miami students and the Oxford community working together to “help us acknowledge that we all have a common goal in protecting our environment and promoting sustainability”, she said.