Scarlet goes green

This month, Earth Day celebrates its 40th anniversary around the globe. The first Earth Day was established on April 22, 1970 to commemorate the Earth and all its resources; over the years, it has evolved to be a weeklong observance, a time in which eco-friendly events spur public awareness.

This year is packed with events around the United States and the globe, enabling any mother-nature enthusiast to find his or her place in the celebration. On the Earth Day 2010 commemoration website, Earthday.org, one can find all Earth Week events in his or her area. Many of the key issues, established by the Earth Day 2010 Action Center Online, include sustainable development, the importance of recycling, water provision and sustainability, the search for clean energy and the food and agriculture industry.

Bostonians will participate in various environmental projects, such as cleaning bike paths and cemeteries, as well as removing popped tires from along the Charles River. Prayer services and inter-faith groups will hold worship services during Earth Week throughout Boston.

Around Boston, colleges and schools have jumped on the bandwagon of ecologically savvy behavior. On Suffolk University’s campus, the Sustainability Committee will make this Earth Day special with an analysis of the present and future conditions of the Boston Harbor Islands by a panel of speakers. At the East End House in Cambridge, a No Carbon Day will take place the evening of April 22. Young people participating in the House’s afterschool programs will encourage students and families to become more planet-conscientious.

BU’s Take on Earth Week

A new environmental group at Boston University, called sustainability@BU, will call to eco-enthusiasts on the BU campus throughout the entire school week. Student advocacy propelled the organization, making ideas such as the opt-in green fee for funding sustainable projects a reality. Pre-sustainability@BU projects included the installation of a wind turbine on the School of Education, various recycling projects and the first Earth Week in 2008, according to a group of Student Recycling Coordinators.

This year, the BU community will celebrate its third annual Earth Week, in which over 20 student groups, administrative departments and Boston area organizations are involved, said Rebecca Morgan and Rachel Weil, both Student Recycling Coordinators for Sustainability@BU, in an email.

“We have brought together the various groups on campus with the help of Sustainability@BU in hopes of achieving the most comprehensive week of events in BU Earth Week history,” they said.

“This is the first year that the University has one “go-to’ location housing all of the events for Earth Week,” said Susan Lebovits, spokeswoman for sustainability@BU, in an email. “While many schools and colleges have participated in the past, they weren’t always aware of what their peers were doing.”

“This year’s Earth Day, April 22, will be nearly three times larger than years past,” Lebovits said.

Multiple student environmental clubs teamed up for this year’s Earth Week. The week will feature a chowder cook-off using local ingredients, a visit from William Grote of Solar Road Trip, who traveled across the country in his solar-powered vehicle and an appearance by Gazelle.com, a website that buys used electronics. Events include the tasty (local and fair food tastings), the dirty (compost demonstrations in the dining halls) and the silly (Cracking Jokes, Not Yolks- A vegan-friendly comedy show) in hopes of garnering a bigger web of interest in environmental issues, Morgan and Weil said.

Students and community members are encouraged to bring recyclables, such as batteries, small electronics, cell phones and Brita water filters to the George Sherman Union celebration.

There will also be a Free Store at the GSU celebration, where people can bring and swap used clothing, according to Morgan and Weil. The leftovers will be donated to Goodwill at the end of the day.

Also, said Morgan and Weil, there will be a block party in West Campus with free food courtesy of Starbucks, Chipotle, Panera and Qdoba. Meanwhile, the BU Medical Campus will host Keep Local Farms at the Menino Pavilion lobby. According to Lebovits, the BMC will become the first hospital in Massachusetts to join the effort, which aims to help local farmers through weather the economic recession.

Earth Day requires a unique focus toward modern social responsibility. Although planting trees has been the focus of Earth Days past, recycling has become a new priority. Sustainability@BU, for example, has partnered with Goodwill to collect used items.
According to the sustainability@BU website, BU collected 6.75 tons of recyclable material last year. This year, sustainability@BU hopes to double that amount, the website said.

“Many reusable items are tossed out at the end of the year, including clothing, working lamps, usable rugs, good linens, all good stuff,” said Dennis Carlberg, sustainability Director at BU, in an email. “We hope this three-and-a-half week program will encourage students to donate and recycle for the sake of the environment and the Goodwill mission.”
“To me, Earth Day is a time for reflection and community. No matter what race, religion or political party you’re a member of, we’re all inhabitants of the Earth,” Lebovits said. “This day is about awareness, celebration, and what we need to do to preserve it.”

Every Day is Earth Day

Some students question whether Earth Week is enough to make a difference in the environment.

“As far as an event for Earth Day…I know they probably legally wouldn’t be allowed to do this, but I’d turn off all the hot water in the dorms,” said Arielle Balicki, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “People use way too much and if you turned it off people would take faster showers and not leave the water running all the time.”

“I think every day should be Earth Day,” said Joshua Mendez, a College of Engineering junior.

“Just because there’s one day devoted to the Earth, I don’t think people should be just environmentally conscious on that day. If you are really conscientious about the earth, then you are going to do it everyday. You are going to worry about what you eat, what you buy, how much time you keep the lights on,” he said.

Is BU Green Enough?

According to the Sustainability Coordinators, there are approximately 10 environmentally conscious groups on campus, each with different perspectives and focuses. On the sustainability@BU website, over 180 BU courses are listed in 12 different colleges pertaining to “sustainability,’ and a new interdisciplinary concentration in Sustainable Energy will begin next year as a collaboration of ENG, CAS and the School of Management.

However, some students said they noticed that the BU community has grown more conscientious of its carbon footprint.

“Last year I was like, “Oh my god, BU, you are tray-less, but you are still so sloppy,'” said Lauren Price, a CAS sophomore. “And there are still a lot of things they could improve upon. There’s still a lot of waste with the lights and whatnot, but as far as recycling, the library has been really proactive about that. And the free water bottles were great.”

“I think [BU has] made more of an effort,” said Michelle Gub, an ENG sophomore. “Freshman year, I didn’t see as much recycling and “green’ stuff, like the trashcans for one thing. And they handed out the bags for recycling&-every dorm or every room has one. It’s an easier way to get your bottles down to the recycling bin.”

“They still have a long way to go,” said Balicki.

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