Give STL Day Spotlight: earthday365
By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern
It’s easy to go green: that’s the message of earthday365, a non-profit in the St. Louis region working to help people make sustainable choices and keep tons of waste out of landfills each year. Through event recycling, education and green restaurant certifications, earthday365 is expanding the work of sustainability on a grassroots level by helping individuals change their habits to be greener.
However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has had to radically shift their work. Within a month, earthday365 had to shift the 2020 St. Louis Earth Day Festival online entirely, including creating a comparable online experience, moving over 150 vendors to an online format and scheduling nine days of live streamed programming. While the festival turned out to be a stunning success, featuring over 80 live programs, COVID-19 continues to impede the work of the group.
“While we were able to pivot the Festival, our other year-round programming has been slowed or halted since the pandemic,” explained Dr. Jessica Watson, earthday365’s Executive Director. “The Recycling on the Go program provides recycling and composting services to events all over the region – all of which have been completely shut down. The Green Dining Alliance (GDA) provides green certification to restaurants, but as restaurants were also impacted severely during the pandemic, that service was temporarily halted.”
However, earthday365 was able to shift many of their programs into a virtual space. Much like they shifted the 2020 Festival online, the Recycling on the Go program has moved to offering educational resources online, and the GDA is promoting restaurants through online programs and social media to uplift green restaurants. They’ve also created a new GDA Relief Fund to assist local restaurants during the pandemic.
These changes have required an immense amount of funding, which is why Give STL Day was such a valuable fundraising source. In 2020, earthday365 was able to more than quadruple their fundraising numbers from the year prior, raising over $8,000
“Give STL Day provides a great point of focus that we can use to rally our community,” Watson noted. “It also helped prove to our board and staff that so much was possible with a new virtual strategy.”
Now, earthday365 is having conversations with black-owned businesses, roundtables, and nonprofits to ensure they conduct their sustainability work through the lens of racial justice and equity. “Our future vision for earthday365 is to strengthen the local food system and build a network of restaurants, farmers and consumers who care about the intersections of economic justice and the environment,” Watson told us.
Through focusing on structurally equalizing food distribution to care for under- resourced communities, earthday365 hopes to continue activating people across the region to engage in projects for food equity, environmental justice and waste reduction.