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NAS Whidbey Island Contributes to Environmental Preservation For Earth Day

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Cuenca Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

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Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island celebrated Earth Day throughout the week by holding several events that protect the environment and conserve energy while supporting operational and energy effectiveness.

Navy and Marine Corps commands worldwide participate in Earth Day events throughout April and May, often with other services, government agencies, and local communities.

NAS Whidbey Island began with a base-wide trash clean-up with several zones designated throughout the base for Sailors to comb through, April 22.

“We came out here to leave the base better than we found it,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Daniel Schiller, assigned to the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142. “It is good we come out every year for Earth Day because it’s important to show pride in the base.”

In support of the Earth Day tradition of planting a tree, Sailors from Fleet Readiness Center Northwest (FRCNW) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Northwest employees gathered for the planting of a Thundercloud Flowering Plum tree near the barracks on Ault Field.

Capt. Matt Arny, commanding officer, NAS Whidbey Island, attended the ceremony to speak on behalf of the installation and participate in the tree planting. Michael Barenburg, the base's environmental protection specialist, oversaw the event.

“The tree planting is our sort of annual kick off for the celebration of Earth Day,” said Michael Grant, the integrated solid waste operations manager for NAS Whidbey Island. “We all know that trees breathe carbon dioxide to generate oxygen. This tree planting is a symbol of how we can enrich our carbon.” 

Barenburg also said that it is important to celebrate Earth Day in order to recognize the lasting footprint we have on the Earth. 

A competitive dumpster dive was held later in the week on April 24, near the Fleet and Family Services facility. Large metal dumpsters had been transported to the parking lot from barracks on base. Alongside the large trash container, several smaller bins were present for participants to sort trash and recyclables. Members of different organizations were also present with informational displays around the event promoting energy conservation and environmental awareness.

Teams from FRCNW and the base’s NAVFAC Northwest public works and environmental sections competed against each other in the event, with the winner being the team that properly sorted the most recyclable material from trash. The winners received an honorary recyclable metal pig trophy, kept until the next annual dumpster dive on Earth Day.

The event was hosted by Grant who spoke about the origin of the event.

“This is an educational event so people can realize how many recyclables are being thrown out," said Grant. "We put this event on every year and we see how much garbage is converted to recyclable commodities.”

The team of FRCNW Sailors won the event and were awarded the metal pig trophy by Grant. The base wrapped up the day’s celebration with a community barbecue.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22, on which various events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. Numerous communities also celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues that the world faces.