During April, the Office of Sustainability, Students for Sustainability and other campus clubs stay busy with multiple events each week for Earth Month. This year, these range from a terrarium workshop (April 12, 4:30 p.m. in Post Lobby) to a talk by Kiran Oomen, one of the students who sued the federal government in the Juliana v. the U.S. case (April 22, 7 p.m. in the Alumni Room in Old Main). And of course, there is the Earth Day Festival on April 20.
We strongly encourage all students to attend the events they are interested in. Learning is not just limited to the classroom and these events provide a chance to learn more about the world we live in and how our actions can help or harm it. With terrariums, vegan sushi and Green Oaks, it will also be fun.
The past two terms have brought some exciting news for sustainability and nature on campus. You can help plant the new Knox Food Forest on April 20 and a new composting program is in the works. The Senate Sustainability Fund has provided funds for composting and the food forest, in addition to helping individual students with senior research.
Earth Month is also a great opportunity to learn more about the campus itself. Stop by the prairie near the tennis courts and see what is sprouting. Learn the names of some of the trees you see around campus, and which are native and which aren’t. Give a hand at the Knox Farm on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and learn about where some of the produce in the caf is grown.
Learning enables us to reflect as well. How do our individual actions affect the world? Climate change and greenhouse gasses are a common problem to point to with this, but it is far from the only one.
Of course, these individual solutions will not address the bigger problems behind climate change and other challenges to the environment. For that, we need to go beyond Earth Month to change the politicians and corporations that run our country and the consumption-based culture in which we live.
To reach that change, we need to vote for environmentalist politicians and encourage the growth of sustainable sectors of the economy. You probably know there is an election in a year and a half, but you will have several local elections before this. These matter. Local politicians can change land usage, energy sources, waste management and other important parts of creating a sustainable society. And then, in November 2020, vote for politicians who will support environmentalist policies at a national level.
Of course, just voting is far from a full solution. Really, despite our increasing knowledge about what the problems we face are, the equitable and effective solutions are less clear. We can start with our individual decisions though, and Earth Month is a good time to do that.
Here is a list of the remaining Earth Month Events for students:
April 12, 4:30 p.m., Post Lobby
Sustainable Sushi Making
April 17, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., Lincoln Room, Seymour Union
Earth Day Festival
April 20, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Gizmo Patio (rain location, Lincoln Room)
Earth Month Speaker:
Student Activism Ñ Juliana v. the US
April 22, 7 p.m., Alumni Room, Old Main
Green Oaks Trip
April 27, 1 – 4:45 p.m., Departing from Seymour Union Loading Dock
April 30, 7 p.m., Ferris Lounge