Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and students have shown their desire to protect the planet during Earthfest this week.
Events such as the Community Environmental Symposium, recycle drive, light bulb exchange and tree planting were held throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s planned Earthfest activities featuring live bands, eco-friendly games, arts and crafts and much more.
Environmental Science Club advisor, Doug Oetter, has been working to promote Earthfest and is excited about the opportunities it brings.
“We are celebrating the earth,” Oetter said. “We’re celebrating the fact that we live on the most beautiful planet in existence.”
This year’s Earthfest will be the fourth one the Environmental Science Club has organized. In previous years other groups on campus have also gotten together to celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day was started by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970, as an educational tool to encourage students to learn more about the planet. It then grew into a movement, as people wanted to start focusing more on the way they treated the Earth. Both Earth Day and Earth Week have grown in popularity since.
Oetter hopes Earthfest will help promote awareness and encourage people to take action.
“We’re still facing so much uncertainty about the future with regard to population growth, resource use, invasive species and diseases, not to mention climate change,” Oetter said. “There are so many issues that we can’t begin to fathom without a continued understanding and change of attitudes.”
The first event featured at GCSU’s Earthfest was Monday’s Community Environmental Symposium.
The symposium featured a variety of speakers including local middle school students, waste hauling company representatives and local government officials, all looking to raise awareness of environmental preservation.
Junior and vice-president of the Environmental Science Club, Zachary Gilbert, helped with the planning of the symposium.
“An event like this is a great way for our local leaders to see the hard work that many of our students and community groups are doing in promoting environmental awareness,” Gilbert said. “(Hopefully) in the future we may be able to work with them and perhaps bring Baldwin County to the forefront as a leader in environmental awareness.”
The symposium also tried to show students, as well as the community, a variety of organizations that are striving to be environmentally conscious. Gilbert said he thinks this will be one of the most important events held during the week.
Junior biology major and Environmental Science Club member Matt Heath has also helped organize some of the Earthfest events and hopes to see a large turnout.
“During the week of Earthfest, we hope to bring awareness to current environmental issues that are facing the world today,” Heath said. “We will be providing information on ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle that has less of an impact on the environment.”
Sponsored by the Environmental Science Club and SGA, Earthfest has taken months of hard work. The Environmental Science Club began planning in November, with many members, including Environmental Science Club president Jeff Brittain, starting to plan even earlier. Brittain has helped organize many events throughout the week, including Wednesday’s Recycle Drive.
The recycling drive has been held multiple times over the course of the semester by the Environmental Club.
Wednesday also featured the Times Talk which is held weekly in Beeson Hall.
Thursday’s events were the Light Bulb Exchange program, the tree planting on campus, and the showing of Ferngully in the A&S Auditorium.
With support from Plant Operations and the Georgia Power/Energy Star Change-A-Light effort, the bulb exchange program will provide student volunteers the chance to go around campus and replace light bulbs. A large number of compact florescent lightbulbs were donated by Georgia Power for the program.
Plant Operations is also donating their time to help plant trees around campus. Last year, one tree was planted behind Wells Hall but this year between 20-25 trees will be planted around campus.
Friday’s events include a sell/swap/trade event in the residence halls and a river clean-up at The Greenway.
“These events are important because it gives the school an opportunity to realize that you can make a positive difference anywhere in the world,” Brittain said. “Everything you do has an effect on the planet and the more conscious you are of the impact you make, the more likely you are to feel accountable for the decisions you make.”
Saturday’s events will feature over 15 organizations talking about their goals, what they do to preserve the environment and how people can get involved. There will be a crafts and coloring contest, a drum circle and live music from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday concludes the Earthfest activities with a nature hike at Bartram Forest.
“I want people to walk away from Earthfest with a motivation to think about the way they live,” Brittain said. “Not everyone needs to go out and buy a hybrid, become a vegan, and start preaching global warming, but there are sensible ways that individuals can ‘green’ their lives without a big hassle.”