LAFAYETTE -- With California suffering one of its worst droughts in years, you might think the ninth annual Lafayette Earth Day Festival is all about water.

And you'd be almost right, because on Sunday outside the Lafayette library, landscape experts, greywater and rainwater collection specialists and EBMUD representatives will offer advice to local residents about conserving water.

There will also be a watershed model display, where people can see what happens when rainwater accumulates on city streets, houses and businesses. The demonstration shows how water gathers pollution from streets and surfaces and carries the toxic brew through storm drains and waterways and, eventually, to the ocean.

"Considering we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in the history of California, we look forward to advice about how to reduce water usage in homes and yards," said Tina Goodfriend, a Lafayette resident and Sustainable Lafayette board member.

Sustainable Lafayette is a grassroots nonprofit whose members engage in activities aimed at ensuring community sustainability for future generations. Lectures, films, "green" schools, business, transportation, waste diversion and other conservation initiatives become a brouhaha of bravado on Earth Day. This year, Goodfriend said, new and returning sponsors and vendors reflect the importance of critical issues now on the public's radar.


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New this year, global textile recycler I:CO and retailer H&M are sponsoring a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. People donating clothes at the festival can text the word "DROP" to receive a 15 percent off H&M coupon and be entered in the scholarship sweepstakes. Even if you're not the grand prize winner, everyone wins; I:CO, part of the SOEX GROUP and based in Switzerland, turns discarded, stained, throwaway linens, shoes, belts, bags and clothing into the raw material for construction industry insulation, stuffed toys, shoe insoles, flooring and protective packaging.

The company -- it's I:CO name coming from "I collect" -- says on its website that producing a new T-shirt consumes 10,000 to 30,000 liters of water and emits 3.6 kg of CO2. About 5 to 10 percent of those numbers are used with a recycling process. Partnering with traders, retailers, charitable organizations and others, I:CO sorts donated goods according to category, classifying them for rewear, recycling or upcycling, to close the consumer loop.

SOEX GROUP processes around 700 tons of used items every day in more than 90 countries, so -- remembering those T-shirt numbers -- it's fair to say they're in the water conservation business, too.

Of course, Earth Day wouldn't be worth it's parch-inducing salt,if there wasn't a people-powered parade (which starts at Stanley Middle School at 11 a.m.). Self-propulsion is key: Decorated bikes, scooters, skateboards or old-fashioned feet are the means of conveyance. A bounce house and a mysterious Lawrence Hall of Science-sponsored activity Goodfriend called "a waterfall activity on the patio in the water zone" will keep kids busy.

Musical entertainment happens throughout the event, from the Contra Costa Children's Chorus, Dominant 7 (jazz musicians from Stanley Middle School), Audacity (singers from four local high schools singing a cappella) and Acoustic S&M (a guitar and mandolin duo).

Jay Lifson, underscoring the musical element in an email by saying the festival "preaches to the choir" (Lafayette's conservation-savvy demographic), praised the effort because it "might change a bad habit or two." As executive director of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, one of the event's sponsors, he turned to lyrics from a Brent Mydland song to emphasize the day's importance.

"Brent was the keyboard player for the Grateful Dead in the 1980s," Lifson said. "He lived in Lafayette and raised his family (here) before he died in 1990."

The lyrics, written by John Perry Barlow, reflect Earth Day's message, albeit ominously ... "We can run, But we can't hide from it, Of all possible worlds, We only got one ... "

The Lafayette Community Garden will sell starter plants, and solar companies will be on hand to answer questions about how homeowners can do more with sunshine than simply enjoy it. At noon, a special celebration of organizations and individuals working to make Lafayette one of the most sustainable cities in the Bay Area will include an announcement of the City of Lafayette Green Award winners for 2013.

Earth Day Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27
Where: Outside the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
Cost: Free
Info: http://www.sustainablelafayette.org/ (click on event on facepage)