How to participate in Earth Week 2013

By: Jill Odom

April 22 is Earth Day and here are some tips for students who are looking for a way to reduce their carbon footprint.

Most things a student can do are common sense but here few items to remember.  Walk or ride a bike over short distances rather than driving a car. Take advantage of the regular routes of the shuttle buses instead of using your own car. Remember to turn off the lights when you are the last person in the room. Avoid taking long hot showers and don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth.

Using reusable shopping bags isn’t a fad either. These bags carry more than the plastic store ones and help cut back on petroleum plastics that would otherwise end up in a land fill. The city of Troy has released a recycling guide, explaining what should or shouldn’t be recycled.

The categories are broken up into cardboard, paper, plastic and metal. There are usually more things you can recycle than you can’t such as pizza boxes, envelopes, yogurt cups, aluminum cans and other everyday items you don’t think about.

The Environmental Club will be hosting Earth Week and will have booths set up on the quad and be giving out pamphlets along with Earth Week 2013 wristbands and key chains. On Monday, April 22, native nonvenomous Alabama snakes will be present at the booths from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A seminar on water quality in the U.S. will be presented by Dr. Steven Kolmes, from the University of Portland, the same day at 12 p.m. in the Math and Science building, Room 212.  He will be covering EPA methodologies and examine the scientific validity of using them for determining surface water contaminant standards.

On April 23 at 4 p.m., Dr. Kolmes will hold a seminar on the Sustainable Campus in Room 326 of the Math and Science building and cite the University of Portland as an example for its LEED building certification, organic gardening and their Climate Action Plan.

There are no other definite plans for the rest of the week but the Environmental Club will be having an I.D. game on native species with prizes. Students will choose between plants and animals.

Sunflowers grown in the greenhouse behind Math and Science in hand-painted pots will be sold to raise money and Earth Day t-shirts will also be sold at the booths. Environmental Club will be holding a recycling drive and tie-dying shirts as well. Mr. Millar will have live crayfish on display throughout the week.

This organization has been hosting Earth Week for at least ten years now and Mrs. Elizabeth Ensor, the sponsor of Environmental Club, has been here for the past two.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness. A lot of people don’t even know that we have an Environmental Club, that we have a greenhouse, that we are actively growing lots of things,” Ensor said.  “We’re trying to help people be a little bit more aware of their surroundings, because sometimes people they notice the humans but they don’t notice all of the other living things. I think once you start to notice that you have more of an appreciation for it and then you start to get more interested in conservation.”

Another one of the goals they hope to accomplish during Earth Week is signing a petition at the booth for a green fund. It would be a small student fee, possibly $5 a semester. They plan on asking students whether they would be willing to pay such a fee.

The green fund would be used to create a budget for solar panels, a rainwater collection system on the roofs and other resource conservation items.

A coalition would have to be formed comprised of administration, the physical plant and student representatives. SGA has not been talked to yet about these plans but Environmental Club has spoken with members of the Sustainability Committee.  They hope to use other universities as model for their green fund.

Earth Week is Environmental Club’s biggest event of the year since it is the last full week of classes so students interested in joining should meet up with them when classes start back in August in Room 212 of the Math and Science building.

When asked why he joined Environmental Club, Jeremy Duke, a sophomore ecology and field biology major from Ozark, replied, “I suppose it’s because I wanted to become more of an active environmentalist. I had been recycling, walking to campus and shopped eco-friendly, but it wasn’t much of an active role. By joining the Environmental Club, I was able to be involved in a tight-knit group of people that had plans for the bigger picture concerning ways we can help Troy and the university go-green.

For those wishing to take action and start preserving natural resources there is no better time than Earth Week to come and learn about what you can do to play your part.

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