WILKES-BARRE — If you heard music in the area near Public Square while driving with your windows down Sunday, there’s a good chance you were hearing songs in honor of Mother Earth.
For Earth Day, a handful of environmentally-minded folks congregated on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre with the hopes of raising awareness of the future of the planet itself.
Organized by Action Together NEPA, a local political activist group, the rally sought to bring attention to both the broad strokes of climate change and some of the simple ways individuals can help the environment.
The rally played host to a few speakers, all of whom were scientific professionals versed in environmental disciplines.
Colby Tanner, assistant professor of biology at Misericordia University, made some points about how attendees could be more environmentally conscious with a few props: some grocery bags and apples from the store.
“There are enough plastic bags to circle the earth seven times,” Tanner said, adding that the plastic bag in his hands would take around 1,000 years to fully break down in a landfill. Tanner instead proposed customers bring their own bags, as he does.
Tanner said other countries, such as Ireland, have instituted a charge on plastic bags, which has greatly reduced the amount of plastic bags used by such nations.
Tanner also showed off two apples, saying that, by virtue of being in his hands, they represent a combined effort of nearly 15,000 miles of travel.
“These apples have a carbon footprint bigger than some third world people,” he said.
One of his colleagues, fellow Misericordia professor Cosima Wiese, echoed Tanner’s points, saying that the increased population in recent years has caused food production to grow increasingly difficult, suggesting the environmentally conscious begin gardening more to help.
In addition to the speakers, Action Together NEPA had a voter registration stand set up. Group member Rebecca Zukauskas said the registration is an important part of all their events.
“It’s about making sure we give everyone the opportunity to register,” Zukauskas said, right after a new individual registered to vote.
Thomas Shubilla, Plains Township commissioner and member of the Democratic State Committee, said that he believes events such as Sunday’s are an important step to having a healthier planet.
“It’s not going to save the planet, but it’s about realizing the earth is something we have to take care of, and bringing people together,” he said. “I hope (Action Together NEPA) keeps it up, and keeps encouraging people to get involved.”
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan