Modified: April 9, 2018 11:54am

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The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and its environmental partners are inviting residents to celebrate Earth Day at the Buffalo Museum of Science on Sunday, April 22. From 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM visitors will be able to participate in hands-on Earth Day activities throughout the Museum, as well as view a student-inspired rain barrel display and artwork created from single-use plastic bags and developed by students from across Western New York.


The artwork on display is part of a project entitled “Pollution Prevention through Art” that makes the connection between litter, stormwater and plastic pollution. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning was joined in coordinating and conducting the project by the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo, and the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute, along with Modern Disposal and Hyatt’s Creative. Students used thousands of single-use plastic bags to create the art and sculptures on display at the Museum, which opens on Earth Day and stays through May 2018. A total of 42 Art Projects were submitted by area schools as part of the Pollution Prevention through Art program and 17 were selected for display in the exhibit. An example, “Terror of the Sea” by Ms. Weber & Ms. Grimaldi's 3rd grade class at Alden Intermediate School, can be viewed here . 


“These artworks and rain barrels combine artistic expression and environmental awareness into thought-provoking presentations that demonstrate the depth of knowledge and care that these students have for the world around them,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I thank the team at DEP and their partners for invigorating student discussion and expression with this project, which helps students to not only better identify and understand the environmental challenges their generation faces but also to interpret their response to those challenges in artistic and profound ways.”


The program began in November of 2017 when 68 teachers from around the region gathered at the Buffalo Zoo for an all-day development session on issues surrounding single-use plastics.  Since that time these teachers have been leading their students through a S.T.E.A.M. curriculum highlighting topics such as litter, stormwater management and ocean gyres. Teachers engaged students to better understand their role in plastic pollution prevention and discussed ways that students and their families can be part of the solution to the problem of overuse of single-use plastic, such as plastic bags.


“The Buffalo Museum of Science is thrilled to be a partner on this project,” added Marisa Wigglesworth, CEO and President of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.  “We are pleased to host this artwork, which has been created by students and inspired by science.”

The “Pollution Prevention through Art” exhibit is included with general admission and free for Museum members. 


Also on display are nine beautifully painted rain barrels from local schools which were submitted as part of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition’s Annual Art Contest. For the sixth consecutive year schools and organizations throughout Erie and Niagara County participated in the popular rain barrel contest, which challenges entrants to learn more about storm water pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of our local waterways and then portray that knowledge in a vibrant, colorful way on a rain barrel. This year, 53 rain barrels were submitted by area schools and 9 were selected for the art exhibit. In total 2,658 students were involved in the program from over 55 WNY schools.


“Merging the beautiful artwork the students created with environmental science the teachers offered made this a life-long learning experience for each student,” said Tiffany Vanderwerf, Chief Conservation Officer of the Buffalo Zoo. “With this project students gained a deeper understanding of the effects of plastic in the environment but also learned about personal actions they can take to reduce those plastics.”  



Background information: 


Storm water is rain and snow melt that flows over hard, impervious surfaces like roof tops, driveways, streets, and parking lots.  Along the way, contaminants such as lawn chemicals, automotive fluids, pet waste, and litter are collected. These pollutants end up in our waterways each time it rains.


A key to preventing storm water pollution is to utilize green infrastructure solutions. Green infrastructure is a collection of practices that capture runoff and allow it to infiltrate the soil as nature intended.  One easy and important green infrastructure practice is storing rainwater for re-use by using a rain barrel. Other methods include planting rain gardens to naturally soak up and filter the runoff, or simply disconnecting gutter downspouts from your home.  Using these practices, thousands of gallons of storm runoff can be reduced, keeping pollutants out of our rivers, streams and lakes.




For more information:


On the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning, visit    http://www2.erie.gov/environment/


On the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, visit  





 On the Buffalo Museum of Science, visit http://www.sciencebuff.org/site/index.php 



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