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Earth Day comes early to Union Square this weekend

Earth Day Initiative’s annual event covers everything from sustainable fashion and community solar projects to the debut of a cardboard bicycle.

If you’re looking to get a jump on your Earth Day 2018 actions, head to Union Square on Sunday, where Earth Day Initiative will hold its free annual festival. 

The daylong family-friendly event will feature dozens of exhibitors, live performances, an interactive booth featuring Korean beauty brand Innisfree’s new biodegradable sheet masks — and the world debut of Cardboard Technology’s Balance Bike.

“It captures the imagination, and it’s a bike made out of a totally unconventional material,” said John Oppermann, executive director of Earth Day Initiative. “It’s made largely out of recycled cardboard.”

Recycled plastic and organic glue and paint were also used to construct the bike, which can get wet and weighs just 5 pounds but can support riders up to 225 pounds. The Balance Bike will be available later this year and will ship flat and can be assembled in five minutes sans tools — and its box even converts to a parking stand, Cardboard Technology told Metro.

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Another newbie to Earth Day Initiative’s Union Square event is an interactive zero-waste weaving art installation to promote sustainable fashion, which is quickly becoming top of mind for the fashion industry.

“We’re just at the cusp of people starting to pay more attention to sustainable fashion, not just the impact on the environment but also its health impact,” Oppermann said.

When it comes to renewal energy, Oppermann calls New York a “high-ambition, low-ability city. There’s really high ambition to support a transition, but there’s a low ability because people live in apartment buildings or rent, so it’s not possible to just install solar panels on your roof, so you have a low ability to affect where your energy supply comes from.”

But New Yorkers can take steps to change that on Sunday by signing up for community solar projects coming to the Bronx and Queens to essentially become a lessor of the solar panels at the forthcoming rooftop solar farms. 

“So you get to support the brand-new solar generation, and you end up saving money because you get paid for the amount of electricity generated by your portion of the solar panel,” Oppermann explained. “I’m really excited about these projects getting off the ground because it can demonstrate that this is possible here.”

Earth Day Initiative’s annual festival takes place Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. in Union Square. It is free and open to the public and will be held rain or shine.

Metro is proud to be Earth Day Initiative's exclusive newspaper partner. For more coverage on Earth-friendly initiatives and environmental issues, pick up Metro’s special Earth Day 2018 edition, which hits stands Friday, April 20.