NEW YORK—The 22nd annual Ecofest, New York City’s flagship event organized by the non-profit 350.org, was held at the Esplanade at Battery Park City on Sunday, along with the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. During the event, 7,347 groups in 188 countries around the world launched projects to increase awareness of the climate crisis.
“[The] 350 parts per million is the number of carbon dioxide [in the atmosphere] that’s acceptable,” Nanci Callahan, producer of Ecofest, said. “Last year it was 389, now it's 392. It’s going in the wrong direction.”
New York City's chosen Ecofest project was the Household Toxic Waste Campaign, an initiative focused on increasing the number of toxic waste dropout sites in the city.
“Until right this minute, [toxic waste] has gone right into the trash,” Callahan said. “We’ve been giving out red bags and letting people know. By next year we’ll have one toxic waste dropout site in each of the five boroughs.”
Callahan said this was a step in the right direction but not sufficient change. Having to go to a dropout site on the south side of Manhattan, for example, would not be very practical for someone living on the north side.
“We need to get to where we have toxic waste pick-up,” she said, adding that it took a very long time to get weekly pick-ups for recycling.
Among the organizations present at Ecofest 2010 were Youth for Human Rights, New York Solar Energy Society, New York Power Authority, Clean Air NY, Commuter Link, Multi-Pure, Green Mountain Energy, and Yachay Wasi.
Marie-Danielle Samuel, the co-founder and vice president of Yachay Wasi, said she’s been participating in Ecofest for the past 18 years. She started while she was an employee at Con Edison and said that Con Edison used to participate in Ecofest as well.
Yachay Wasi is a non-profit organization based in New York City and Peru that promotes various global environmental initiatives. One of the projects on its list is the Billion Tree Campaign, which is dedicated to planting a billion trees around the world to help conserve fresh water lakes.
Also on display at the Ecofest was a third-generation Toyota Prius. Callahan said that once other car companies saw that the Prius was profitable, they started making hybrids as well.
“The Prius is the breakthrough vehicle that made it possible for all the other companies to say, ‘Well, if they can do it, we can do it,’ and now we have a really large selection of vehicles for people to choose from if they want to go green,” Callahan said.
Docked right by the Ecofest was the Hudson River sloop Clearwater, a boat and environmental organization founded by folk singer Pete Seeger. The boat schedules educational sailing trips focusing on biology and environmental science, along with public trips up and down the Hudson River.