This Earth Day, consider the small things you can do to help environment

April 22 marks the 44th annual Earth Day celebration. Earth Day events, held worldwide, demonstrate support for environmental protection. The first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans who peacefully demonstrated for environmental reform. Today it is coordinated by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated by more than 1 billion people in more than 192 countries.

1 earth day

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson organized the first “national teach-in on the environment” after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. His goal was to bring environmental protection into focus. Within a year of the first event, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Before the EPA was formed there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. After its formation it led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

As the world’s population continues to grow and our natural resources are stretched thin, it’s even more important to keep a watchful eye on the natural environment. Not all acts and participation must be large. Many small changes help to reduce our impact on the earth. Following is a list of small changes you can make this Earth Day to improve environmental health.

1. Buy local. Visit your local farmer’s market. Your food will be fresher and will have traveled fewer miles than the majority of foods found at your local grocer. Use the items you purchase to plan an Earth Day dinner serving locally grown food. Remember to take a reusable bag!

2. Compost your food waste. Food thrown into the trash ends up in a landfill. Food rinsed down the drain goes to a waste water treatment center where it is removed from the water and then sent to a landfill. By composting you save land space, save fuel energy from waste removal vehicles, and have a nutrient rich additive for your plants.

3. Attach a rain barrel to your home’s downspout. When structures are built they change the natural flow of rainwater, producing greater amounts of runoff. A rain barrel holds the water during a rain event and is available for later use.

4. Organize a litter cleanup. Litter is not only unsightly, it’s also detrimental to water quality. Litter left on the ground can be picked up by rainwater and swept into a stream or a storm drain, which discharges into a stream. By removing litter you are improving water quality and improving the appearance of your community.

5. Reduce gasoline consumption. Instead of using your vehicle for short trips, walk or ride a bike. Whenever possible, use public transportation. You will not only reduce the amount of gasoline being used (gas is made from a nonrenewable natural resource), you may also see an increase in your funds.

This is just a sampling of the small changes each individual can make to improve the environment. With a world of over 7 billion, individual actions add up. Small changes can make a big impact.

1 Pattie-Stivender

Pattie Stivender is the education outreach and volunteer coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 17, 2014.


With basketball over, April’s Earth Month shifts our focus to environment

Basketball is over … now what?

Wow, what a basketball season! I am still recovering from the game parties last weekend and staying up way too late on a work night to watch the final game. I am also recovering from my guilt in thinking that our team would not get nearly as far this year. But now that basketball season is over, how will we ever spend our spring?

This artistic rain barrel was painted by Franklin Independent High School art teacher Miles Johnson and his students. It is located in the Capitol Annex in Frankfort. (Photo from bgGreensource)

This artistic rain barrel was painted by Franklin Independent High School art teacher Miles Johnson and his students. It is located in the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.

Aside from Major League Baseball’s opening games (which if we are honest, who really watches baseball until much later in the season), April is known for Earth Day. April 22, 1970 was the first celebrated Earth Day (as well as the day my husband was born!) and, since then, environmentalists have expanded the day to Earth Week, and now many of us talk about Earth Month.

So now that your weekends have become more free, I thought that I would give you a list of the wonderful things happening in Central Kentucky to celebrate and give back to our Earth. The list starts this weekend and goes through April but if you are interested in celebrating Earth Day all year long, join Bluegrass Greensource’s e-newsletter or check out the calendar on the website at

Reforest the Bluegrass is held Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hisle Park between 3551 and 3655 Briar Hill Rd. in Lexington.

Since its beginnings, Reforest the Bluegrass has used citizen volunteers to plant over 100,000 trees along streams throughout Fayette County. The program is designed to recreate pre-settlement streamside forests that were once native to the inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Through the efforts of thousands of volunteers, Lexington is progressively restoring the long lost benefits of streamside forests for generations to come. Register here.

Downtown Trash Bash is held Friday, April 18, from 12 to 4 p.m. in various locations downtown.

Come on out to the Downtown Trash Bash and make our downtown more beautiful while helping to protect water quality in the Town Branch.
Individuals and businesses are invited to join us any time between noon and 4 p.m. at one of five starting locations, where we will provide the tools you need to help remove litter from our cityscape.

Our check-in booths are located at:

• Fifth Third Bank Pavilion at Main Street,
• Thoroughbred Park at Main Street,
• Duncan Park on North Limestone,
• Jefferson and Short Streets, and
• South Limestone at Avenue of Champions on the University of Kentucky campus.
Register here.

Main Street Clean Sweep is held Tuesday, April 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in various locations in Central Kentucky.

Bluegrass Greensource needs your help this Earth Day for our first annual Main Street Clean Sweep.  On April 22, employees from seven downtown communities throughout the Bluegrass will work during their lunch break to pick up litter and keep their Main Street clean.
Register here.

Rain Garden Workshop is held Friday, April 25, in Boyle County.

Join Bluegrass Greensource for class instruction on building your own rain garden, and on Saturday, April 26, for the garden install that will coincide with Boyle County Earth Day. Register by contacting the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service at 859-236-4484.

Arbor Day at the Arboretum is held Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arboretum.

This year the Arboretum will host the 27th Annual Arbor Day event. Activities will include:

• More than 40 exhibitors
• Proclamation by the mayor,
• Presentation of Tree City USA Award,
• Tree planting ceremony with Kentucky Utilities representatives, Lexington dignitaries and Arboretum staff,
• Free admission to KU Day in the Kentucky Children’s Garden
, and
• Many children’s activities including a puppet show.

Registration is not necessary for this event, but more information can be found at here.


1 Amy-SohnerAmy Sohner is executive director of Greensource and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with Greensource since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 10, 2014.


First Annual Earth Day Main St. Clean Sweep!

BGGS_Main St Clean Sweep



Bluegrass Greensource needs your help this Earth Day for our first annual Main St. Clean Sweep!  What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by getting out in your community and picking up litter?  Litter thrown on the streets ends up in storm drains and trashes our environment.  Storm drains often flow directly into streams, lakes, and rivers.  When water becomes polluted, it is no longer safe for drinking or recreation, and this litter harms fish and other wildlife.  Many of the items that are thrown from car windows or dropped on the sidewalk are not biodegradable, which means that their chemical decomposition takes a very long time and that these items will create long-term damage to environment (this is the case with cigarette butts).

You may have heard all kinds of things about how litter harms the environment, but did you know that litter also hurts local economies?  Houses in littered neighborhoods sell for less money than those in unlittered neighborhoods.  Also, cleaner communities have a better chance of attracting new businesses, residents, and tourists.  Much of what is thrown away or littered (like cans and plastic bottles) could have been recycled and is thus a lost resource.  So, let’s pick up some litter and help clean up the Bluegrass this Earth Day!

We are asking employees from businesses in Downtown/Main Street areas throughout the Bluegrass region to get outside during their lunch break on April 22nd anytime between 11:30 am and 2:00pm and pick up some litter (rain or shine).  Bluegrass Greensource is planning cleanups in Frankfort, Lancaster, Harrodsburg, Winchester, Stanford, Irvine, and Danville.  We will provide trash bags, gloves, and FREE T-SHIRTS at all locations!  Stay tuned for kick-off locations and more details in the coming month!

Even if you aren’t able to get out on Earth Day and help with one of the litter cleanups, you can still make a difference by picking up litter anytime, anywhere.  With your help we can make every day Earth Day!

If you are interested in being involved in one of the Earth Day Main St. Clean Sweep events, please contact Ashley at 859-266-1572 or