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Earth Day Fest Shows how Much Waste Blaine County Residents Toss Each Year
Monday, April 22, 2024


Claire Casey pointed to a plastic Powerade bottle on a chair next to her. The single-use 20-ounce bottle was partially filled with gunky looking brown oil.

“Every time you produce one plastic bottle it takes enough oil to fill a quarter of the bottle,” she said. “That should be the chief takeaway from this Earth Day.”

This year’s Earth Day Festival produced by the Climate Action Coalition in partnership with the City of Hailey was all about teaching—in some of the most fun ways possible.

Attendees could peruse a line of earth-friendly products, include walnut shell scouring pads, vegan smart lemongrass floss, clove cardamon sponge floss and various paraben- and aluminum-free deodorants.

A take-home bingo game challenged people to cross out squares as they turn out the lights when leaving a room, take their car out just one time all day, carry a reusable mug to the coffee shop and learn a new plant-based recipe.

A list of Kitchen Hacks included 10 ways to use veggies that are going bad, including freezing them for smoothies, stir frying them into fried rice, adding them to a frittata or incorporating them into pasta salad. Attendees also learned that soy milk uses the least amount of water to produce, followed by oat, rice, almond and, finally, cow’s milk.

There was even a sudoku game designed to teach people how to recycle right.

This year’s theme revolved around the circular economy, which encourages, sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing and refurbishing existing products to mitigate waste and the pollution involved in manufacturing new clothes and other products.

“This is the first year we’ve had a theme—in this case, encouraging people to reduce, recycle and reuse,” said Elizabeth Jeffrey, of the Climate Action Coalition. “We have more organizations than ever—20, all teaching some aspect of the circular economy. Idaho Power, for instance, is showing people how to  reduce energy and another group is showing how to use worms with compost. We want to replicate the first Earth Fest, which was all about teaching.”

Among the hands-on activities was the chance to glue variously sized bottle caps on butterfly wings painted by Hailey Public Library interns. The wings—about six feet across will eventually be affixed to the walls of the library or Hailey Town Center West, said librarian Lee Dabney.

The upcycling project is the first of many upcycling projects using bottle caps that are planned this summer, she added: “So, we’re accepting donations of bottle caps!”

Edith Pendl, who calls herself “Grandma Pendl,” showed off the small animals she has crocheted from wool remnants.

“This one was my Easter sheep, but it actually looks more like a mountain goat,” she said, picking up a cutie with dark black button eyes, a button nose, two black horns and stringy white yarn covering its torso.

Amanda Moulton of the Hunger Coalition served up free samples of lentil tacos with “magical cheesy sauce” made of potatoes and carrots to show how people can swap out meat and cheese for more earth-friendly foods. And others offered samples of green red beet pesto.

As with past years people were invited to help themselves to free T-shirts cardigan sweater jackets and other items off the rack.

Rob Lonning offered to sharpen pruning shears and other garden tools free of charge. Erin Solomon of Trailhead Bicycles showed youngsters how to make earrings and bracelets from cast-off bike parts. And Jessica Miller, Nancy Kennette and Marlowe Bradley occupied a Fix-It corner, showing people how to repair holes and tears in clothing.

Miller used a Japanese embroidery technique called Shishiko as she wove a needle and thread through the strings holding together the thigh of her jeans—while she was wearing the jeans.

“I have to be careful not to prick myself as I sew,” she said. “I want to make a pattern, and my pants will be fixed.”

Amadeus Tran was among the young people taking part in the festival.

“I used to do community service so I figured out, ‘Why not for Earth Day? he said. “Honestly, people need to clean up their trash.”


The average Blaine County resident sends 2,316 pounds of waste to the landfill per year. That’s twice the national average of 1,214 pounds of waste landfilled per capita every year.

Blaine County sends its waste to the Milner Butte Landfill near Twin Falls where 74,000,000 pounds or 37,000 tons of waste gets landfilled every year.

Blaine County emitted 336,107 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018. One metric ton of greenhouse gas is the equivalent of the emissions from driving a gas-powered car 4,800 miles.

On average Blaine County 2,600 tons of material are recycled every year, or about 193 pounds per person.

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