AU community cleans up campus as part of Earth Week celebrations

Thirty-two AU organizations collaborated to celebrate the planet, raise awareness and help fund environmental efforts during Earth Week.

Earth Week kicked off with Campus Beautification Day on April 17 and will end April 27.

“The really great thing about Campus Beautification Day is [students] normally walk around campus and see the arboretum, but do not have a lot of opportunities to take part,” Joshua Kaplan said, AU’s sustainability outreach specialist. “We work together for a common goal, and years later students can look back and say ‘I planted that tree.’”

Approximately 375 AU students, staff and faculty as well as 45 children from Horace Mann Elementary School and six “Eco-Goats” took part in Campus Beautification Day, Kaplan said.

President Neil Kerwin also affirmed his commitment to a zero-waste future at AU at Campus Beautification Day.

Six “Eco-Goats” were fenced on the Quad to graze so the goats could “mow” the grass and eat “invasive plant species” such as weeds, according to Kaplan and Eco-Sense President Adam Beckerman. By using Eco-Goats, the University saved fuel and energy instead of using lawn tools.

“This is one of our weeks to really give out our environmental message and to have people be involved and aware,” Beckerman said.

Eco-Sense and AU Poetics co-sponsored an environmental poetry contest on April 18. Eight students read original poems, and attendees voted for their favorite poem by placing money in recycled mason jars marked with each poet’s name.

The $40 raised during voting went to AU’s Sustainability Fund, according to Eco-Sense.

The Sustainability Fund was designed a year ago by the Office of Sustainability to fund research and sustainability projects at AU, according to Kaplan. Anyone in the AU community can apply for grants ranging from $500 to $1,500, according to the Office of Sustainability’s website.

AU Green Eagles hosted a sustainability fair on the main Quad April 19 as part of Earth Week.

According to the Earth Week website, Green Eagles provided “tips for greening” student’s lives at the fair, including:

• Where to find local organic food near campus,

• How to make study abroad trips more green

• And how to make sustainable beauty products.

Eco-Sense and Zeta Psi Fraternity co-hosted a screening of “Planet Earth” and sold organic snacks to raise money for the Sustainability Fund on April 20, Beckerman said.

“I think Earth Week’s biggest success this year was that it prompted the University to reaffirm its commitment to sustainability in a public way,” former Eco-Sense President Scott Berman said in an email. “It is very helpful to have [President Neil] Kerwin devote his time to the topic of sustainability because it raises awareness [and] elevates the importance of environmental issues for the AU community.”

April 22 marked the international celebration of Earth Day and was supposed to include a tour and demo of the green roofs on campus. However, the event was rescheduled due to rain and will now take place on April 25 at noon, according to the Earth Week website.

Earth Day is recognized internationally by approximately 184 countries and was first celebrated in 1970, according to the Earth Day Network.

“People should be aware of problems threatening our future and be willing to act on them,” Morawski said. “Even if it’s just something small.”

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