Earth Day events set in Ashland

Instead of using thousands of plastic water bottles, attendees at the 10th annual Rogue Valley Earth Day will have the opportunity to take a swig from a mobile drinking-water station created by Jackson County SMARTWorks, a waste-prevention program.

The Water on Wheels unit will debut at Saturday's event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at ScienceWorks, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland.

"We're joining in with nationwide efforts to choose durables over disposables as a way to save natural resources, prevent waste, save money and reduce fuel consumption," said Paige Prewett, event manager.

Residents are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles to fill up at the drinking-water station, which looks like a drinking fountain on wheels and hooks up to a water source via a hose.

Saturday's event is the culmination of Earth Week in Ashland. ScienceWorks started holding a series of environmental lectures Tuesday that will continue through Saturday in the museum's SciTheater. The events are free for ScienceWorks members and $5 for nonmembers.

Southern Oregon University professor Steve Schein will discuss integrating sustainability and business on Friday.

On Saturday, Jen Coleman, of the Oregon Environmental Council, will explain how a home checkup can reduce toxic materials and protect health and waterways.

The lectures lead up to Saturday's gathering, which organizers expect about 3,000 people to attend.

This year's Earth Day event, themed "Sowing Seeds of Stewardship," is designed to show attendees some eco-friendly steps they can take at home or work, Prewett said.

"We hear and read a lot about opportunities to live sustainably at home and work, but when people are actually able to see it and touch it, it becomes more real and tangible and doable," she said.

There will be more than 70 exhibits at the gathering where people can learn about local farms, alternative transportation, solar electricity, cob building and green construction.

The event will be waste-free, as it was last year for the first time, meaning organizers have "taken steps to prevent, reduce and redirect waste whenever possible," Prewett said. In addition to composting, organizers are focusing on making the event as paperless as possible, by posting information online and encouraging vendors to make signs from scrap materials.

The mobile drinking-water unit, which organizers call WoW! for short, will help reduce waste further, Prewett said. The device also will be available following Earth Day for use at community events, and Jackson County Master Recyclers can help show people how to use the device.

The project was funded by a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Rogue Community College metal shop students fabricated the unit.

The point of making Earth Day a zero-waste event is to show attendees that they can reduce waste in their daily lives, Prewett said.

"This is about connecting the dots between information and action," she said.

For more information on the ScienceWorks lectures, call 541-482-6767 or see For more information on Earth Day, or to catch a free shuttle to the event from Talent or Medford, call 541-482-6767 or visit

Hannah Guzik is an Ashland Daily Tidings reporter. Reach her at 541-708-1158 or

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