The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Recycle the Practices of Earth Day

Local nonprofits hosts sustainability events in Waco

1 month ago

By Avery Ballmann

As the alarm clock blares and wakes you, you stumble to the bathroom to brush your teeth with your disposable toothbrush and you floss with your plastic picks before you head to the kitchen to make your pot of hot coffee before the sun is up. After spooning the coffee grounds into your paper coffee filter, you patiently wait as the coffee drips into the carafe. Once your cup is brewed, you grab your favorite creamer in a plastic bottle and mix it with your freshly brewed drink. Before going back to bed to watch the morning news, you discard the coffee grounds, paper filter and the creamer bottle that was just finished off.

In the first waking hours of your day there were several missed opportunities to be sustainable, which you probably don’t think about, but Executive Director of Keep Waco Beautiful Carole Fergusson does.

“Every day is Earth Day for us, but it’s not for everyone,” Fergusson said. “So, we’re trying to encourage the mindset that every day is Earth Day.”

April 22 is Earth Day but that 24 hours isn’t enough for Keep Waco Beautiful — to honor this holiday properly, they have turned Earth Day into Earth Week with events spanning from April 20 to 27. To see a list of all the events continue reading or visit our featured events page.

Other organizations such as Waco Friends of the Climate, Baylor University’s Environmental Humanities Department and local businesses are participating as well. But like Keep Waco Beautiful, these organizations see the practices of Earth Day as habits. Dr. Alan Northcutt, Director of Waco Friends of the Climate said they believe that personal action by reducing individuals carbon footprint is important to combatting the climate crisis.

“When we started hearing about the climate crisis, I began reading the scientific reports, and I was stunned at how serious this was,” Northcutt said. “And I thought that for our group, we should focus on what I think is the most important issue facing mankind. There’s lots of important issues out there, there’s no doubt, but if we don’t have a livable planet, then all the other issues can be kind of mute.”

Since 2012, Waco Friends of the Climate has been active in fighting the climate crisis in the Waco community and the country. They have protested pipelines, attended national marches and routinely attend Waco City Council meetings to urge the council to make more environmentally-conscious decisions; such as converting the city’s fleet of vehicles to electric, of which there are now four city-owned vehicles that are fully electric.

Northcutt was a practicing pathologist, a medical professional that makes diagnoses based on looking at body tissues, but he never guessed he would be making environmental diagnoses on the planet. Although Northcutt comes from a scientific background, that does not mean a member of Waco Friends of the Climate has to be. There is actually no membership process, a person just needs to attend their monthly meetings every fourth Tuesday at 6 p.m. located at the South Waco Library, 2737 S 18th St.

On the other side of the climate crisis spectrum lies Environmental Humanities, a study that explores the environmental impacts on culture. Baylor University added this field of study to the curriculum last November, with 20 faculty teaching courses from environmental science to English. Director of Environmental Humanities at Baylor Joshua King, Ph.D. specializes in Victorian and Romantic literature, but he shows his students the correlation of authors and the environment that people normally don’t look for.

“In dialogue with the sciences, we are digging into the cultural roots of environmental vitality and distress while working to co-create just futures, starting here in Waco,” King said.

A way the department is implementing this practice is through the Baylor community garden located at the corner of Ninth and James. In the middle of Baylor’s Bubble, there is a garden thriving through the work of students. Students learn how to compost with local diverted food waste and tend to produce. The produce grown from the garden then travels a couple of blocks up to Baylor’s student food pantry, The Store.

While King didn’t discover environmental humanities in a classroom like his students, it was through literature that King realized his love of nature, so much so he could pinpoint the exact date of this personal epiphany. In 2014 when King read “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein, he said this was when his deep passion for the environment began.

To continue fostering a passion for caring for our planet, Keep Waco Beautiful has countless events throughout the year outside of Earth Week. Wacoans don’t even have to attend an event, they can visit any Waco-McLennan County library to check out a litter kit for free. So, while people are on their morning walk or playing with their kiddos, they can be picking up trash along the way.

“Sustainability is possible and accessible for everyone, no matter where you’re at,” Fergusson said. “Education is a huge component of what we do because we want our community to be empowered with the knowledge to recycle.”

Keep Waco Beautiful has created many ways to attain sustainability through their Waco Glass Recycling  program with four bins located throughout Waco: East Waco Library, McLennan Community College Lot S, Downtown Waco on 151 N Fourth St. and Goodwill New Road. They also encourage businesses to join their Waco Green Business Alliance and offer free certifications and education. Later this year, Waco will host the Green Communities Conference September 10–11 for those interested in sustainability in the Lone Star State. To stay updated on volunteer opportunities, tune into Keep Waco Beautiful or the Wacoan event page.

“There’s something special about taking pride for your own community and so we’re just really excited to be able to help encourage our community to think of Earth Day as something that we should be celebrating every day,” Fergusson said.

Saturday, April 20

The Great Waco Cleanup

From 9–11 a.m. Wacoans will be picking up trash and debris across Waco’s five districts. This event is a part of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup and is free to the public. All supplies will be provided — remember to wear closed-toed shoes — and register here. Keep Waco Beautiful is aware of the weather this morning, but rain or shine, the cleanup will still happen unless there is lightning in the area.

Free Tree Seedling Giveaway

Meet members of Waco Friends of the Climate and get free seedlings from a mulberry tree at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, 500 Washington Ave. Starting at 9 a.m., Waco Friends of the Climate will be handing out seedlings until they run out. Visit their booth while you’re at the market to learn more about their organization and how they’re working in Waco.

Party for the Planet at Cameron Park Zoo

Keep Waco Beautiful is giving away free plants at Cameron Park Zoo’s, 1701 N 4th St., party for the planet from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.! There will be thrifted vases and plants to take back to your home. To learn more about the party details, visit Cameron Park Zoo’s website.

Monday, April 22

Green Business Alliance, Coffee on Us!

Keep Waco Beautiful and their program, the Waco Green Business Alliance, are giving away free coffee for those who bring reusable cups at Be Kind Coffee and Pinewood. This event begins at 7 a.m. while supplies last.

The Waco Green Business Alliance is to encourage local businesses to operate as sustainably as possible. Keep Waco Beautiful recently received a $13,000 grant from Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages and Keep Texas Beautiful that will go towards educating local businesses and eventually larger companies on how to operate sustainably by recycling, conserving energy, watershed compliant and other practices. To see Waco’s Green Businesses visit their website.

Earth Day 2024: Caring for our Common Home in Poetry, Film, Culture

Hosted by Baylor’s Environmental Humanities Department, watch a short film, hear from university faculty members about their environmental research and teaching, and enjoy poetry readings in multiple languages from students. Plus hear remarks from Dr. James Marcum about the first Earth Day in 1970. Students, faculty and staff from all departments are welcome to attend this free event located in Draper Academic Building, 1420 S 7th St., room 152 starting at 4 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23

Science Day with Sarah the Scientist

The Greenhouse Effect is a natural phenomenon on Earth and it works the same way as garden greenhouses help grow plants. Join Sarah The Scientist from Keep Waco Beautiful to learn why the Greenhouse Effect is both good and bad, and even see it in action! Kids will get hands-on experience in this real-time science experiment demonstration at the Doris Miller Community Center, 1020 Elm Ave., from 4:30–5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24

Bridge Street Farmers Market

Head over to the Bridge Street Farmers Market, 200 E Bridge St., from 5–8 p.m. to shop local vendors and hangout with Keep Waco Beautiful. While supplies last, Keep Waco Beautiful is giving away free tote bags and coupons to certified local green businesses. Waco Friends of the Climate is also giving away free tree seedlings.

Thursday, April 25

Green Drinks with Waco Green Business Alliance

Drinks are on Keep Waco Beautiful again, but this time at Cha Community, 1001 Franklin Ave., from 4–5 p.m. Enjoy free dumplings and cha while supplies last. This networking event is free and open to the public, please register here if you plan on attending.

Friday, April 26

Tree Planting for America Arbor Day 

The Green Communities Conference team is planting trees downtown in Heritage Square, 311 Austin Ave. to replace trees that died during the freeze.

Saturday, April 27

Care for Waco Carnival 

The Waco Youth Council and City of Waco Office of Sustainability and Resiliency will host the Care for Waco Carnival located at Doris Miller Community Center, 1020 Elm Ave. This free, family-friendly event will feature free food from Mac’s Fry House, treats from Kona Ice, music, carnival games, crafts, a vendor market, face painting and more from 10 a.m. –1 p.m. Stop by Keep Waco Beautiful’s booth to take home plantings and other giveaways!