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KNOXVILLE — East Tennessee’s 2008 EarthFest will be not only a zero-waste event, it also will be carbon neutral, thanks to a donation from the Make Orange Green program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The 9th annual EarthFest will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 26, on the campus of Pellissippi State Technical Community College. This year’s theme is “Smaller Steps to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint.”

“UT Knoxville’s Make Orange Green program has been working to reduce the campus’ carbon emissions and made a valuable financial contribution to this year’s EarthFest,” said Catherine Wilt, EarthFest co-chair and a research leader with the UT Knoxville Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment. Make Orange Green also helped EarthFest organizers explore ways to achieve a carbon-neutral event.

Events such as EarthFest cause an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, due to everything from energy used to cook food to gasoline burned to drive to the site. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will contribute to global climate change.

EarthFest organizers, relying on the donation from Make Orange Green, chose to work with an organization called TerraPass to reduce the event’s environmental impact through the purchase of carbon offsets.

The offset principle works this way: A company, in this case TerraPass, sells carbon offsets. The money that TerraPass brings in from these offsets is used to fund clean energy and efficiency projects that capture energy from wind, farm animal wastes and landfill gases.

These projects result in reductions in carbon emissions –and in doing so, make up for the negative impact of holding the event itself. Since 2004, TerraPass customers have eliminated more than 800 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the primary contributor to climate change.

With the Make Orange Green donation, EarthFest was able to purchase offsets for 89 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions.

Information will be available at EarthFest about TerraPass, calculating the carbon impacts associated with the festival and how everyone can reduce their broader environmental footprints throughout the year.

Make Orange Green is UT Knoxville’s environmental awareness and action program. Make Orange Green helps educate faculty, staff and students about ways to make the campus more environmentally friendly while sharing UT’s environmental success stories with the community.

More information on EarthFest is available at http://www.knox-earthfest.org, and more information on Make Orange Green can be found at http://environment.utk.edu.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)
Catherine Wilt (865-974-1915, catwilt@utk.edu)