Troy University environmental club celebrated Earth Week with various activities, prizes, and student involvement. Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to get citizens involved in trying to repair the damage that was happening to the environment. The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Since then people have become more and more involved in making Earth a better place.
“A bit of planning for Earth Week began in the fall,” said Elizabeth Enzor, a biology professor and the Environmental Club advisor. “We came up with a few ideas that we wanted to include. Actual planning began sometime in February.”
Enzor hopes that students begin to notice their surroundings and realize the world is made up of more than just humans.
“Although cleaning the environment is important, building an appreciation for life around them is well needed.” Said Enzor.
Club members, Chelsea Smith and Jeremy Duke, feel like they are making a difference.
“I joined them Environmental Club because I really enjoy nature,” said Chelsea Smith a senior biology major from Enterprise, Ala. “That’s one of the reasons I chose to be a biology major. I love all areas of life. I’ve noticed people do not care much for the environment in the area much. They dump trash and animal carcasses on the side of the road. I want to educate people on how to make campus, and their own lives better.”
Jeremy Duke, a sophomore Ecology and field Biology major from Ozark Ala., feel like the club is moving forward.
“We are now doing regular river clean ups, rebuilt the green house, and started more efforts to promote recycling. Baby steps for the better,” Said Duke.
The highlighted event of Earth Week was the Sustainability lecture by Dr. Steven Kolmes, director of the University of Portland’s Environmental Studies Program. The University of Portland (UP) is recognized as one of the greenest campuses in the nation. There are over 10 LEED certified buildings on campus, student taught non-credit environmental informal classes, and complete student participation. The SGA of the University of Portland voted to allocate a portion of student activities fees to a “sustainability fund”. The aim of this fund is to assist the university towards environmental sustainability. First year freshman at the university are required to volunteer the first weekend of college to clean the campus and environment.
UP has banned the sell of water bottles on their campus. Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. It requires 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce these bottles. Students have the opportunity to buy re-useable titanium bottles to use around campus.
“There is nothing wrong with the tap water here in Troy,” said Paul Michael Stewart, a professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences here at Troy. “If students are afraid of the tap, a filter for water doesn’t cost much either.”
The wave of campus sustainability also reached UP’s dining halls. On average, food travels 1,500 miles to one’s plate; not at UP. The purchase of local foods – be it produce, meat, seafood, or cheese- supports sustianbable regional economies, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on long distance food transportation. The dining hall changed from all you can eat to students paying for courses individually. Students have debit cards with a certain amount of points to pay for meals. This dropped food waste 80%, and since less food was being wasted the cafeteria was able to spend more money on better ingredients. The dining hall has moved takeout boxes away from the food service counter to encourage the use or reusable/rewash able plates. They also have traded the use of plastic forks and spoons to ones that are based on potato starch that biodegrades overtime. Now only is this preventing waste, but it is also helping students watch their weight.
Kolmes and Stewart persuade students to get involved with the environmental club.
“Students are the future steak holders in what happens on campus. They should demand what they want. Students at UP are also participating in Earth Week, and they have planned the events on campus. Be a part of the student environmental club, and talk around with students. Food, students love talking about food. Discuss how the food looks. The administration listens to students,“ said Kolmes.
The Environmental club is open to all majors. The organization will pick up again in the fall. Join the mailing list by emailing Elizabeth Enzor.
“We are at a battle to save the planet,” said Stewart.