How to Have a Fun Earth Day in Santa Barbara

Eart Day in Santa Barbara! Photo by Erin Feinblatt.
Earth Day in Santa Barbara! Photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Although Earth Day is widely celebrated throughout America and in many parts of the world, it holds a special significance in Santa Barbara. That’s because the creation of Earth Day in 1970 was largely in part due to the social discontent with the 1969 oil spill that devastated our coastline after the blowout of Union Oil’s Platform A. The spill was huge even by today’s standards. It left the local and national community bitter about the effects of the oil on the natural environment and at Union Oil’s lack of response.

Union Oil Platform A gushes oil and natural gas after the infamous pipeline rupture off of Summerland, California.
Union Oil Platform A gushes oil and natural gas after the infamous pipeline rupture off of Summerland, California.
Oil stained waves washed ashore the beaches of Santa Barbara for months following the spill.
President Nixon surveys the oil soaked sand at Ledbetter Beach, two months after the Oil Spill.

This environmental disaster was the first oil spill that Americans had seen and the photographic evidence of the destruction was distributed throughout the national media. That’s when Senator Gaylord Nelson began his campaign for the first Earth Day. He encouraged students and citizens to organize environmental “teach-ins” around the country. As a result, on the 22nd of April 1970, 20 million Americans marched in the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast to coast rallies. Community and non-profit groups that had been fighting against several different types of environmental problems suddenly realized that they shared common values. The first Earth Day achieved a rare political alignment, reigning in support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urbanites and farmers, executives and blue-collar workers. It also led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. As Senator Nelson explains, “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself. It was a gamble, but it worked!”

Fast forward 42 years and Earth Day has grown to become a worldwide celebration of Environmental Advocacy. And no city celebrates the eco-holiday better than Santa Barbara! The entire event is operated with responsibility as all the electricity for the festival is generated from the sun and from biodiesel, and all waste will be sorted by compostable and recyclable material and kept out of the landfill. It is strongly encouraged to walk, bike, take the bus, or carpool to the festival.


Here are some highlights of the festival:

Bike World
Roll into bike paradise with free bike valet service, free bike tune-ups, and more. Santa Barbara bicycle vendors are on hand to assist the newbie or the pro cyclist.

Campus Point
Come hang out with college and high school campus-based groups that promote environmental awareness and student engagement.

Explore colorful exhibitor booths for unique finds: green products, smart technology, cool gadgets, organic clothing, and fun stuff you didn’t know you needed until now.

Green Car Show
Experience the latest and greatest in automotive technology, including the newest electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

Kid’s Corner
Whisk your kids away to a fun and imaginative corner to learn about Mother Earth – and to play!

Live Green
Learn how to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle and make eco-conscious choices on a daily basis. Check out booths on eco-lifestyles (sustainable food/farming, personal wellness) and green homes (solar/wind, energy efficiency).

Public Square
Visit your favorite non-profit organizations, government agencies and community-based projects working in the public interest.

For more info, location, and times of events log onto

SO, Get to the festival and have a great GREEN weekend!




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