Hillsborough EPC hosts 12th annual Clean Air Fair

05/10/13 Roberto Roldan
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In celebration of clean air month, Hillsborough county’s Environmental Protection Commission put on it’s 12th annual Clean Air Fair Thursday at Poe Plaza in downtown Tampa. It featured exhibits from local government agencies as well as local business’ showcasing their efforts towards addressing the environmental issues facing the Tampa Bay area.

The event was an effort to bring together local businesses and organizations together to help the EPC reach out and inform the community. One organization at the fair called Nature’s Classroom, works to educate youth about environmental protection and environmental issues. Bill Munsey, a teacher from Nature’s Classroom said connecting all these environmental organizations from around the Bay is a key step in working towards a cleaner environment.

“We’re down here in the business district. I just had a lady come by and she’s influential in one of our larger companies here. She’d never touched a gator, she’d never touched a snake. She was thrilled to do it. She said ‘This is really cool! What can I do? Can I come out with my staff maybe and see what we can do to help you out at Nature’s Classroom?’ and so I made a contact there. Karen [Johnson] is going around and making contacts with other people. So, we want everyone to be involved in this because one person, one institution can’t do the job; it takes total community commitment.”

The fair was an eclectic mix eco-concious exhibits ranging from local farms to recycled oils producers. Miles Carter, a Hillsborough County native and owner of My Sweet Bees Apiaries, walked around the fair wearing a bright yellow shirt that read “I’m a bee keeper. Ask me about my bees.” Carter said he was there to show his support for green businesses and to send a message.

“The more people are aware of what’s really happening chemically, I'm going to stress chemicals because it plays such an important factor with bees in particular. We need to tell congress and our senators, ‘You need to ignore the lobbyist from the big chemical companies and clean up our environment!’.”

The theme of this year’s fair was “Environmental Protection through Community Engagement”. Nanette O’Hara, a representative from the Be Floridian campaign, provided information to the community about Tampa’s new fertilizer ordinance. From June 1st until the end of September, people living in Tampa will not be able to legally buy or use nitrogen enhanced fertilizer.

“Nitrogen, in particular, is the number one polluter in the Tampa Bay. Too much nitrogen causes algae blooms that turn the water that nasty pea green and can cause fish kills. So, we are asking people not to use nitrogen fertilizer in the summer because that’s when we get the heaviest rains.”

May is also National Bike Month. The EPC sponsored a bike raffle at the fair and encourage residents of Tampa to look at biking as a form of alternative transportation during this month.

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