Over the years Earth Day has been criticized as ferment for anti-human pessimism or, worse, an opportunity for companies to “greenwash” their brands — which is to say, pay lip service to environmental concerns while doing nothing. Such complaints whither in the face of the many facts showing that much awareness-raising remains to be done. For example, Americans still toss out rather than recycle 2.5 million plastic bottles — every hour. In 1970, when the United Nations sanctioned Earth Day, it was the first international admission of a serious problem. Activists who had focused on isolated causes — oil spills, deforestation, raw sewage, animal extinction — suddenly found a single voice, and the largest secular holiday in the world. San Francisco was first to the party and, while 1 billion people from Tuvalu to Kiev have since joined, we might still do it best. At today’s Earth Day San Francisco, educational workshops on wind power and backyard beekeeping are interspersed with taiko drummers, bhangra DJs, Aztec dancers, and samba lessons. Big Brother & The Holding Company are among the musical acts. Fashionistas and art lovers can discover treasures made of garbage, while organic raw chefs educate foodies and children play on the environmental fairway. This year, the Green Film Festival presents documentaries, including a look at Donald Trump’s intention to turn Scotland’s last wilderness into a golf course. Whiskeydrunk Cycles conjures a simpler time, with bicycle stunts performed on a vertical track based on a vague design from the early 1900s. While temperance is the better part of valor when mother nature is concerned, it does not have to be boring.
Sun., April 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 2012