Earth Day to feature Water on Wheels

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 Rogue Community College students.

The Water on Wheels unit will debut at Saturday's event, held 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 their own 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 will hold a series of environmental lectures at 7 p.m. today through Saturday in the museum's SciTheater. The events are free for ScienceWorks members and $5 for non-members.

Sean Smith, policy director of the National Parks Conservation Association and a Yellowstone park ranger, will speak tonight about land conservation and future plans for national parks in the region.

On Wednesday, Jason Busch, executive director of Oregon Wave Energy Trust, will talk about wave energy and the possibility of using it in the future as an alternative energy source. Michael Kanellos, editor-in-chief of Greentech Media, will speak Thursday on the future of green technology. 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. "One of the unique things about Rogue Valley Earth Day is that it's a very interactive, hands-on event."

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.

Attendees can watch live music and dancing, as well as make earth-friendly crafts and participate in a drum circle. There also will be activities for kids at the museum, including face-painting.

Rogue Valley Earth Day will feature reusable utensils and mugs this year, in an effort to further reduce waste. Biodegradable dishes and napkins will be collected separately from other waste and composted.

"If we really want to prevent waste and reduce consumption of resources, then we need to get back to using durable goods that last and can be used over and over again," Prewett said.

This event also will be waste-free, as it was last year for the first time. Waste-free means 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 is spearheaded by Jackson County SMARTWorks, a waste prevention program, and funded by a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

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

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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