The Wesleyan Argus | The Office of Sustainable Development organizes events to celebrate Earth Month
The Office of Sustainability hosted various events for the University community to celebrate Earth Month, focusing on ways to recognize the planet and promote environmental sustainability. The month-long programming, conducted in April, surrounds Earth Day, which takes place on Friday, April 22. The full schedule of sustainability-related events hosted by the Office of Sustainability and other community groups can be found on the website of the Office of Sustainable Development.
The event list includes a raffle of gift cards to travel on a Middletown Area Transit bus using the WesPass Program, a series of talks on environmental justice and decorating compost bins. Acting Director of the Office of Sustainability, Hayley Berliner, explained that the planned events aim to remind the university community of how they can have a positive impact on the environment.
“We want to remind people of the various actions they can take in their individual lives, as well as the systemic changes the University can make and the actions that can happen statewide or nationwide that can make a very big difference for the future,” said Berliner.
Various members of the Office of Sustainability have been involved in planning for Earth Month.
“We have a bunch of different groups of interns within the Office of Sustainability working on a variety of things, and so we just talked about how to let people know about the projects they’ve been working on all year at a wider audience and to use Earth Day, Earth Week, Earth Month as a sort of launch point for some of their work,” Berliner said.
Office of Sustainability Eco-Facilitator and Green Fund Fellow Debbra Goh ’24 helped organize the clothing swap, which is scheduled for noon on Friday, April 22 in the backyard of the College of the Environment. Goh believes it is important for members of the campus community to change the way they focus on the environment.
“I think we’re entering a period of time in the world where environmental issues are so intersectional and affect everyone,” Goh said. “And if they don’t affect you now, they will one day soon, and it’s not just about saving the planet and saving nature because we should love the earth. It is also about the fact that protecting the environment and nature is one of the best ways to protect the most vulnerable communities on the planet, and one of the best ways to protect our neighbors and protect our families and those we love.”
In addition to raising environmental awareness through Earth Month, the Office of Sustainability began partnering with the Resource Center last semester to organize the first debate from the Environmental Justice series. The series continues this semester during Earth Month and features three speakers who will discuss various topics related to environmental justice: Vandana Shiva, Mikaela Loach and Greg Genco. The Green Fund, which funds campus sustainability projects, helped fund the speaker events, the first of which was a Q&A session with Shiva, environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate, Tuesday, April 5 on Zoom.
“We contributed to obtain [Shiva]who is this super cool, anti-gmo indian scholar [and] activist via Zoom,” Goh said. “The entire mission of the Green Fund is to contribute to the financing of projects that support the environmental movement in all its forms, whether it is intersectional ecology or something else. »
The second speaker event took place on Monday, April 11 with Loach, a climate justice activist and co-host of the YIKES podcast.
“She’s more of a climate justice influencer on Instagram and she’s young, she’s our age,” said Shirmai Chung ’22, an intern at the Sustainability and Spirituality Resource Center. “So hopefully she’ll be able to offer more advice on how people can get started as activists or do community organizing here on campus.”
The final speaker in the series will be Genco, founder of Generation Conscious, which makes sustainable detergent sheets. The University is currently a partner of Generation Conscious to provide students with eco-friendly laundry tapes. Genco will be hosting a workshop on ecosystem design on Monday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the Resource Center.
“He’s going to give a talk on ecosystem design, so it’s basically about how product designs should be more environmentally centric, should be more sustainable, and how we can do that,” Chung said. . “So it’s perfect for people who are more business or IDEA oriented. [Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences] minors”.
Berliner thinks the series is important in highlighting why justice must be considered in the environmental movement.
“Justice is such an important part of the environmental movement,” Berliner said. “We must continue to incorporate and integrate it into all the work we do. So I think it’s really important to bring it to people’s attention as much as possible. »
Conversations on campus regarding environmental justice have grown in tandem with those centered on racial injustice.
“I think when you talk about sustainability, especially here in the United States…you can’t separate racism from sustainability, because if you look at the pollution that’s happening in the United States, it’s mostly happening in the communities. black and brown,” Chung said. “I think for me, coming onto campus, I feel like that conversation was really missing, but I’m so grateful that that conversation has grown over the past year. And the Office of Sustainability has increased its focus on equity, inclusion and justice, environmental justice, and also [been] more inclusive in their hiring process, such as deliberately hiring people of color as eco-facilitators and office assistants.
Goh believes that even though Earth Month only lasts a month, the ongoing campus events planned by the Office of Sustainability and other groups can help students discover how they can change their actions.
“I recognize that a month of programming or this Earth Day alone won’t be enough to change the world, but it’s a really good way to start getting students to think about it more in their daily lives and to really emphasize the fact that the time to make positive changes in terms of individual behavior patterns or in terms of how you view larger systemic issues – the time to do that is now,” Goh said.
Jiyu Shin can be contacted at [email protected].