Earth Day beautified the landscape and inspired residents

SCN EarGroup of people picking up trash along the shoreline with the Rio Reimagined project

Earth Day was something special in Arizona this year: it was a united movement of celebration and action. 10 Mayors and communities across the state joined together for Earth Day AZ, a collaborative effort to celebrate current climate action and inspire even more. From Flagstaff to Tucson and El Mirage to Oro Valley, Mayors, cities and residents showed up in solidarity this Earth Day, in whatever way they could.

“Due to the pandemic, our Earth Day clean up event was held internally this year, but we still had great participation from employees and were able to clean up almost 6,000 pounds worth of trash and debris from a local wash!” said Derek Castaneda, Environmental Compliance Coordinator of the City of El Mirage.

El Mirage city employees weren’t the only crew in search of litter – the Rio Reimagined Earth Day clean-up events had great impact on Valley neighborhoods as well. Over 2,000 pieces of trash were removed thanks to more than 80 volunteers and 11 public, private and non-profit partner organizations.

Many cities held events all month long in celebration of Earth Month and some cities, like Fountain Hills, used Earth Day to strengthen their year-long commitment to climate action.

“Our town has taken a variety of actions over the years including community-wide curbside recycling, installing electric vehicle charging stations and creating a more walkable community,” said Fountain Hills Mayor Ginny Dickey. “It’s our commitment to look for opportunities to improve our community by protecting our precious natural resources.”

Dickey said that the city was “honored to be a part of Earth Day AZ, joining other mayors and communities throughout Arizona in the commitment to help make a healthier environment.”

During the week of Earth Day, the Earth Day AZ page had 567 pageviews and the SCN website saw an increase of users by 186%. Earth Day AZ garnered local and even national media attention, helping to spread the message of encouragement and celebration even further.

Arizonans went above and beyond in their effort, care and enthusiasm for Earth Day AZ. The collaboration between Mayors, cities and residents speaks to the importance of not only celebrating our individual love for the Earth but uniting as a state to take action towards climate resilience as well.

The ASU Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) is an innovative education and outreach program within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Future Laboratory, created to work with communities to strengthen sustainability in the region and across Arizona. Comprised of Arizona city, town, county and tribal community practitioners and leaders, SCN is a vehicle for sharing knowledge, identifying best practices, coordinating planning and actions, and fostering long-term partnerships. Created as a bridge between ASU research and local sustainability challenges, SCN participants and partners work together to streamline and green city operation and advance local and regional sustainability and resilience measures.

Steve Russell