Booksellers Prepare for the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

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Earth Day is just two weeks away, and indie bookstores will be stressing the importance of being green this April 22. Plans in the works range from a green-themed storytime to participation in neighborhood-wide recycling programs.

"Every day is Earth Day at the Penguin Bookshop," said Karen Fadzen, director of the Sewickley, Pennsylvania, bookstore. "We are one of the first independent bookstores to be LEED Registered. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures."

The store's green practices include a Contribution Token Program. A token valued at 25 cents is donated to a nonprofit organization when a customer chooses not to take a bag at the cashwrap. The nonprofit recipient of the contribution changes monthly and is chosen by a staff member.

To celebrate this year's 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Penguin Bookshop will be hosting author Doug Oster (Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden's Most Versatile Veggies, St. Lynn's). "It's on our recommended list because it not only instructs us on how to garden, but also how to cook with the results," said Fadzen.

"During the week of Earth Day, we will be honoring the memory of native Pittsburgher Rachel Carson by showing the film A Sense of Wonder," Fadzen noted. "This film depicts pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson in the final year of her life and was made at Carson's cottage on the Maine coast."

At The Learned Owl Book Shop, Liz Murphy will be concentrating on the kids this Earth Day and throughout the month of April. "My theory is that we have to convince the kids -- they will get the parents on board," she said. "We've had a conservation section for several years, and nothing ever sells." Learned Owl ordered multiple copies of several Dover books -- Amazing Carbon Footprint Facts and Eco-Mania Mazes -- that Murphy is planning to take apart and distribute. "I also downloaded several pages from," she said. "Entitled 'Go Green,'... it has environmental riddles, poems, etc."

In the past year, the city of Hudson has partnered with the Summit Akron Solid Waste Management Authority to provide a community-wide recycling program for residents and businesses. The Learned Owl will become a "Green Partner" and will be recognized as part of the city's campaign. Murphy noted, "At the store we are now never without a recycling box for all those catalogs, junk mail, etc."

At Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, which has six storefronts in Arizona, the entire month of April is designated "Earth Month," said Tamara McKinney. "We celebrate our commitment to the planet and our community in several different ways. We have tons of recycled craft events, environmental workshops, and native wildlife demonstrations happening in all our locations throughout the month. We will be participating in and/or sponsoring local Earth Day or environmental events in all our markets during April."

In Tucson, Bookmans is partnering with the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona to celebrate Earth Day through the sponsorship of GreenFest 2010, a free community event.

On Saturday, April 24, experts from local businesses and organizations will offer interactive, hands-on workshops and activities for kids and adults throughout the gardens. Experts in everything from water harvesting and composting, to xeriscaping and green building, will be on site. Bookmans is also sponsoring and participating in Earth Day events in Phoenix and in Flagstaff, where its store is currently under renovation following a roof collapse from heavy January snow.

Auntie's Bookstore, in Spokane, Washington is hosting its annual "Go Green" storytime. Featured books are We Planted a Tree (by Bob Staake and Diane Muldrow, Golden) and Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya (Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman).

Other plans include making a green craft and taking home something related to Earth Day. "This year we've got plantable bookmarks," said Children's Manager Lindsey Reiswig. Auntie's Bookstore is very "environmentally minded," she said. "We want to pass that on to kids and get them excited about the world we live in."

The store also communicates its green mission in its newsletters, where its environmental efforts are described, including its reuse and recycling of paper. --Karen Schechner