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Protecting the environment: Earth Day Expo raises awareness, educates

Dan Roberts, Army spouse, and his wife, Capt. Stacie Roberts, A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, put their names on a pledge tree as they pledge to recycle better throughout the year during the 2016 Earth Day Expo at the festival fields April 25. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Dan Roberts, Army spouse, and his wife, Capt. Stacie Roberts, A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, put their names on a pledge tree as they pledge to recycle better throughout the year during the 2016 Earth Day Expo at the festival fields April 25. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 29, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 29, 2016) -- Although the first Earth Day was celebrated more than 45 years ago, Fort Rucker’s commitment to sustainability and awareness remains strong as it celebrated a day dedicated to protecting the planet.

The installation hosted its 2016 Earth Day Expo at the festival fields April 25, where people were able to browse vendors’ environment-friendly wares, learn about sustainability and even recycle old electronics, said Darrel Hager, environmental protection specialist for the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Branch.

Throughout the event, visitors were able to learn about how waste affects the environment, including how waste can seep into groundwater, as well as learn about all-electric and natural gas-powered vehicles, he added.

“Our hope is to bring awareness of environmental issues, and to showcase what products and services are available to people,” Hager said. “I think that the visitors gained a more complete understanding of the changes that need to be made. Many of the displays and demonstrations highlighted what is needed and some things that can be done. People need to understand that the way we currently live can’t sustain us for the long run.”

The event was also an opportunity for people to not just learn, but do through the E-cycling event, where people could bring their old electronics to be recycled, which Hager said should be recycled due to the components in many electronics that contain elements that could be harmful to the environment if disposed of improperly.

For those who missed the E-cycling event, there is still the option to recycle year round at the recycling center in Bldg. 9322, located on Third Avenue.

People are welcome to bring computer towers, keyboards, computer mice, printers, scanners, laptops, wires, microwaves, coffee pots, power cords, battery backups, lead batteries, satellite receivers, cell phones and telephones. No government hand-receipt items are accepted.

Jessica Benet, military spouse, said she and her husband wanted to attend the event initially because they saw the Tesla all-electric vehicle and were curious about it, but ended up learning more about the importance of preservation.

“We’re pretty techy, so when we saw the Tesla we obviously wanted to come see it, but we don’t really think about the environmental impact it has and that was something that we learned about while we were here,” she said. “Also, I would have never really thought about ground-water contamination, either. I knew it was a thing, but I didn’t realize how easily things can get into the ground water and it really made me think.”

That kind of thinking was exactly what Fort Rucker’s environmental specialists wanted to ignite in those who attend the expo.

“You don’t know the damage you could be causing to either yourself or the environment if you’re not educated on the subject,” added Melissa Lowlavar, EMB chief. “This expo is a way to educate people that there are better things that they can do to help the Earth and to be good environmental stewards. That’s why we want to get the information out to the Fort Rucker community, as well as people in the Wiregrass, about new, innovative ideas in the environmental field.”

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