Modesto Bee -       (BART AH YOU/bahyou@modbee.com) Dailyn Melchner, 6, wonders how many aluminum cans were in a pick up sized block at the Modesto Junk booth during the 22nd Annual Earth Day in the Park Festival at Graceada Park, Saturday afternoon. April 16, 2011

Dailyn Melchner, 6, wonders how many aluminum cans were in a pick up sized block at the Modesto Junk booth during the 22nd Annual Earth Day in the Park Festival at Graceada Park, Saturday afternoon. April 16, 2011. Photo credit: The Modesto Bee – (BART AH YOU/[email protected])
MODESTO — Stroll through an Earth Day gathering and you’re bound to find some devoted savers of the planet.

People such as Karen and Chuck Shoup of Riverbank, who helped staff a bicycling booth Saturday at the Earth Day in the Park Festival in Modesto.

They recycle. They watch the thermostat. They grow some of their own food and also have local produce delivered. They drive a Prius and are members of the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club.

“We’re really concerned about our planet,” Karen Shoup said, “and we’re concerned about passing along a healthy planet for our grandchildren and other people who come after us.”

Dianne Parkinson, a clerical supervisor in the department, said she practices what it preaches at home.

“I have hardly any waste that goes in my trash can because of how much I recycle on a daily basis,” she said.

A rooted effort

Janet Mathews of Modesto said she would plant the cork oak seedling she got from the Greater Modesto Tree Foundation booth. Her family also has eased up on the environment by walking to school and eating more home-cooked meals.

“We used to live on Taco Bell and pizza and stuff,” she said. “Now we don’t.”

The event featured conservation on a big scale in the Modesto area, such as the energy-saving furnaces at Gallo Glass and the solar-powered SunChip production at the Frito-Lay plant.

People also could learn about little acts that can add up, such as reusing shopping bags or composting yard waste.

And add up they do: Mo- desto Junk Co. displayed a cube of compacted aluminum cans that nearly filled a pickup bed. Passers-by were asked to guess the number of cans.

Bringing it all home

Jacklyn Melchner, who guessed 18,200, said conservation is important in her household.

“We try to save water — don’t let the water run,” she said. “We like to recycle, like using egg cartons for plants and soda bottles to water the plants.”

Shaun McDaniel, a Modesto Junk employee who staffed the booth, also takes the good habits home.

“When it comes to bottles and jars, I reuse them rather than throw them away,” he said.

Five-year-old Vivian Cortez of Modesto had the simplest answer when asked how to save the planet: “Clean it.”

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at [email protected] or (209) 578-2385.