On April 21, the sun had only just reappeared in Galesburg, perfectly timed for the Students for Sustainability’s annual Earth Day Festival. The Gizmo patio was filled with music, snacks and Earth-friendly activities to promote sustainability in the Galesburg community. Students and community members alike came together to make old t-shirt bags, drink smoothies and enjoy a day in the sun dedicated to promoting a more sustainable future.
“Every year we have an Earth Day festival, it’s also during Earth Month and this is our big culmination of [our] activities because we’ve had other … programming like a terrarium making workshop, an Earth Day speaker, but this is our main thing to get people involved and get them thinking about [it],” said sophomore Ezra Schley, co-president of Students for Sustainability.
“Earth Day is a good day to get together and talk about the environment and sustainable topics. But the festival is as much about getting the community together and bridging the gap between the community and Knox as much as it is about talking about the Earth,” said senior Elena Prado-Ragan, the other co-president of Students for Sustainability.
Both Schley and Prado-Ragan put a lot of effort into the organization into the event, making sure to bring both campus and community clubs together. Tables were set up for Pagan Club, Chemistry Club and Bike Club, who were blending smoothies by channeling the energy of pedaling a bike. Soulfege performed a few songs and singing duo junior Graham Homes and sophomore Ellie Baird gave the festival a musical backdrop.
A table was dedicated to Trees for Galesburg, a community citizen group that wants to see more tree canopy coverage in Galesburg.
“We work with the tree commission to find volunteers and fundraise for purchasing trees and also finding places where trees are needed, finding places that are conducive to trees in the city of Galesburg,” said community member and Trees for Galesburg advocate Amanda Christenson. “Our focus is educating people about trees and the problem and also what kinds of trees might be good for Galesburg.”
One member of Trees for Galesburg plays an important part in sustainability on Knox’s campus. Deborah Steinberg,has held the position of Director of Campus Sustainability for two and a half years now. She is proud of the work that both Trees for Galesburg and Students for Sustainability are doing for the community. She notes that reestablishing the tree canopy in Galesburg is important for benefits like shade, habitat and improved air quality. Both Schley and Prado-Ragan also mentioned this, along with their plans to start an orchard project on campus.
Steinberg noted the importance of celebrating Earth Day on Knox’s campus.
“This festival is really fostering stewardship for our Earth and really empowering people to see that little changes can make a difference and working toward a more sustainable planet,” Steinberg said. “Earth Day was started in the ‘70s and it’s a day where we can really think hard about how we’re impacting our planet and it’s great to keep that message going throughout the year and I think Students of Sustainability does a great job with that.”
Students attending the festival took part in lots of sustainable activities, one of the more popular ones being Bike Club’s smoothie table.
“Instead of using electricity, we are using a bike to blend all the ingredients together,” said freshman Esteban Lopez, of Bike Club.
Lopez is an advocate for getting more bikes and less cars on the street.
“One less car. I have a sticker on my bike that says that. Everyone who rides their bike to or from work, to or from school, just around the community – all that is one less car on the road. It’s less emissions for getting from point A to point B,” Lopez said.
Sophomore Gabrielle Aviles attended the festival for the second time and enjoyed making a bag out of old t-shirts.
“I think [the festival] does promote sustainability on campus. I think if there were more tables here talking about what we can do everyday to be more sustainable, that would be cool,” Aviles said.
When asked what advice she has for students who are looking to get more involved in living a sustainable lifestyle, Steinberg mentioned little changes that people can make in their day-to-day lives such as thinking about what you’re buying before making a purchase, turning the water off when brushing your teeth, upcycling, making something new out of something old and turning off the lights when you leave a room. She also mentioned the resources that Knox has right on campus such as the Share Shop, office supply share, bike share and car share.
“We have all these resources in the first place, so if somebody is thinking about it and is looking for places to donate their items or get used stuff on campus, there is a resource there. So hopefully we are getting better about advertising those resources. And my office door is just about always open to ideas,” Steinberg said.