Calls for action, preservation headline Boston-area Earth Day events

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Environmental activists will call on Gov. Maura Healey to halt the building of fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts on Monday, as organizations celebrate Earth Day and promote conservation across the globe.

Members of Extinction Rebellion, a movement focused on creating a national dialogue surrounding ecological preservation and climate breakdown, protested a proposed expansion of 17 new hangars at the Hanscom Airfield on Saturday.

“It’s incredibly frustrating that, even with an administration that has said that climate is a priority, fossil fuel infrastructure that will be in use for decades is still being built,” organizer Chloe Heskett told the Herald.

Aside from their calls for action, Extinction Rebellion will host an event at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park that will feature a variety of games, art, music, guest speakers and other organizations seeking to educate the public on preserving the planet.

“The idea is just to gather and really celebrate together, but also to remind folks that we really need to take action if we want to continue celebrating our Earth in the way that we’re able to now,” she said.

The event will feature a giant Jenga game with endangered species on each block that is ultimately removed during the game. Heskett stressed the importance of educating the younger generation on the importance of preserving the planet but acknowledged kids today are taught of that importance more than older generations were.

“That’s a really important message to get to everybody of all ages, but certainly younger generations,” she said. “Much of the younger generation, though, knows that better than some of us.”

Boston University’s Sustainability team’s Earth Day efforts began roughly a month ago with their program, Earth Day 365. The initiative, promoting how to protect and preserve the planet every day, not just April 22, has included a campus-wide food drive, lessons on utilizing leftover meals, textile drop and waps, and shred and recycling events, among others.

“Sustainability is not just about what I do on a daily basis in my office to encourage the university to reduce its footprint over time,” BU’s Sustainability Director Lisa Tornatore told the Herald. “Sustainability and caring for the planet is something that anybody can do and it can relate to a lot of different topic areas.”

Tornatore encouraged others to constantly remind themselves that change should not be scheduled for a certain date or time. There are also a multitude of ways that preservation efforts can be accomplished and anyone’s desire to make a change will always be welcomed.

“We don’t have to wait for Earth Day to be good stewards of our environment or our local communities,” she said. “The idea here is that we can foster conservation, environmental justice, and like-minded topics any day of the year.”

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission will be showcasing their fleet of 37 electric vehicles on Monday and among them a new combination truck, the Genesis. Typical sewer cleaning vehicles will use upwards of 80 gallons of water per minute, which then drains into the system. The Genesis uses and then recycles 90 gallons over the same time frame, the key difference being that the water in the Genesis is recycled on an ongoing basis.

Stephen Mulloney, communications specialist for the commission, said approximately 96,000 gallons of water per week is saved using the machine.

“Not only is it doing a phenomenal job keeping our sewers clean keeping the city clean and healthy, but we’re also saving around 5 million gallons of water a year,” he said.

Of the 37 electronic vehicles, 16 are Ford F150 pickup trucks and the other 21 are Ford Mach-E hatchback sedans. Mulloney stressed that these new vehicles will reduce the impact on Boston’s environment while the commission’s staff handles a large amount of daily tasks ranging from emergency repairs to overseeing major infrastructure projects.

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission will showcase its new fleet of eco-friendly vehicles during an Earth Day event, including a new Genesis sewer cleaning truck that can reduce water consumption by about 5 million gallons per year. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Mulloney)
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