In hopes of raising awareness on environmental issues, this April, Students for Sustainability has been working in collaboration with various other clubs to fill out the Earth Month calendar.
Junior Fiona Munro, President of Students for Sustainability, explained the hope that pulling more clubs into the Earth Month festivities would improve participation in the events.
“This year our sort of main tactic was to … get a lot more different campus organizations involved so everyone kind of has a stake in it,” Munro said. “… I’m really hoping that people are taking away an appreciation of what Earth means to us.”
Events so far this month have included a Pop-Up Share Shop with Student Senate, an herbalist workshop with Tea Club, vegan sushi making demonstrated by Chef Joe Peterson and a Terrarium Workshop run by Nature Club.
Sophomore Caitlin Edelmuth, who serves as President of Nature Club and on the Students for Sustainability exec board, stated that within minutes of the Terrarium Workshop on Friday all 30 succulents provided by the club were given out.
“It’s just a really easy way to introduce people into planting and growing and just getting comfortable with nature,” Edelmuth said. “I was just really happy to see everyone … being curious about how to take care of the plants and everything.”
On Tuesday students were offered the opportunity to attend a trip to a recycling facility to witness what happens to recycled items from Knox. Munro hoped the visit would be educational to students with questions about the recycling process and guidelines for recycling.
“We don’t always think about … what is actually happening to that stuff,” Munro said. “So I thought it would be really cool for students to kind of see what the process is and maybe have a little more of an understanding of what it means to do recycling.”
Last week also saw the annual Repair Fair, an event initially conceived by Director of Sustainability Debbie Steinberg, in which people from the campus community with different skills in fixing items offer their help to students.
“Things that people were just going to throw out, we save them,” Steinberg said. “Everybody has hidden talents of being able to fix things … so just getting people together.”
Steinberg stated that about five attendees came to the event, which she described as average. This year Steinberg invited bike mechanics to the event, who were able to fix a bike for a student.
This year’s Earth Month Festival on April 20 will also feature the involvement of an assortment of clubs. This will include musical groups, improv, DJ-ing by WVKC, various clubs tabling and snow cone and popcorn machines.
“This year they’ve been really good about asking clubs to host stuff and really having that personal connection,” Steinberg said. “… Suggesting booth ideas and saying that the clubs could just host that instead of making the clubs come up with stuff.”
On the morning of the Earth Month Festival, students will be able to volunteer in the beginning planting for the Food Forest project. The planting was previously delayed due to the trees not arriving on time.
“We’re expecting a lot of people to show up,” Edelmuth said. “The plants won’t bear fruit for another five years but that’d be really cool to come back to … we’ll be able to see the fruit of our labor, no pun intended.”
On April 22, Students for Sustainability is also bringing in student activist Kiran Oommen from Oregon as the Earth Month Speaker. Oommen is known for being among the students involved in the Juliana v. United States case, a lawsuit against the US government over environmental concerns.
Edelmuth stated that Students for Sustainability reached out to Oommen after hearing about his work online and by coincidence one exec member, sophomore Grace LaDuca, came from the same hometown in Oregon.
“He’s coming to talk social activism as a young person so that a lot of us can relate and see what also we can do É to be inspired by someone who’s obviously doing so much already,” Edelmuth said.
Steinberg expressed her belief that the Earth Month celebrations were are an effective way of bringing attention to issues of sustainability, especially through the variety of events taking place.
“Environmentalism isn’t just one thing …. it’s something you can do all the time, not just in April,” she said.