NAPS Earth Day Festival Sparks Excitement about the Environment

There was electricity in the air at the 4th annual Earth Day Festival in Heathsville on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Shoppers, runners, sightseers, activists, children and dogs all mingled harmoniously on the brisk but sunny morning. Hosted by NAPS (Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship), and in conjunction with the first Farmer’s Market of the season, the eco-friendly event brought everyone together for a common mission – to celebrate the natural beauty of the Northern Neck and share ideas for preserving and protecting it. More than a dozen environmental organizations lined up along the sides of the grassy lawn with their hands-on activities and exhibits.

Parked at the end was Northumberland Public Library’s TechMobile, first introduced to locals about six months ago. A state-of-the-art computer lab on wheels, “Big Blue” travels around the county to provide patrons with internet connection, a copy and fax machine, as well as books and movies. At the center of it the festival was arguably the most popular attraction: Two fully-electric Tesla cars on display, with the owners on hand to answer questions (read separate article: 'It’s Electric' – Earth Day EV Exhibit Draws a Crowd).

The Earth Day Festival kicked off with a 5K run to benefit area schools. Organizers were extremely pleased with the turnout, counting approximately 100 participants – an increase over last year. A “Tot Trot” for kids aged five and under proved to be popular with families.

The NAPS Earth Day Pledge Tree greeted attendees at the entrance to the festival, where young and old alike added paper leaves to the tree with their individual pledges to help the environment. Each person who made a pledge received a complimentary NAPS reusable grocery bag.

Those who joined NAPS were given an LED light bulb and pointed to the next booth down – The Northern Neck Electric Cooperative. A newcomer to the festival, the Co-op showcased a visually stunning display of lightbulbs hooked up to a meter, demonstrating the meager amount of electricity LED bulbs use as compared to the traditional incandescent bulbs. “Think of it as sipping electricity versus drinking it,” said NNEC Public Relations Manager, Jay Garner. “Something as simple as changing a lightbulb can make such a big difference,” Garner added.

Another way to save money while protecting the environment is to install solar panels. NAPS member Lee Allain was on hand with a solar array demonstration. Allain answered questions about the benefits of solar energy and explained to interested environmentalists how they might incorporate the technology into their homes and businesses.

Several members of the Virginia Native Plant Society tended a booth at the festival and their message was a familiar one to Earth Day participants – what’s good for the environment often benefits the homeowner as well. Integrating native plants into your landscape not only protects species native to the Northern Neck, but it will save you time and money, as these plants tend to be hardy and low-maintenance, president Kevin Howe explained. Additionally, since our region’s plants and insects “co-evolved” native plants are crucial to the survival of many beneficial insects.