UB's Earth Week celebration advocates for a green and sustainable future
“Make every day Earth day” is a saying that stands out to Ainslie Evans, a senior psychology major and UB Sustainability intern focused on student engagement.
Evans, along with other members of UB Sustainability, have worked to make Earth Day a weeklong celebration on campus this week.
From April 18-25, UB Sustainability is holding environmentally-focused events sponsored by student clubs, groups and organizations for the fifth year in a row. This week’s events have included a green car show, sustainability tabling in the Student Union, a Women in STEM seminar, organic bake sales and a sustainable film series. There will also be a Lake LaSalle cleanup with kayaks on Friday and a spring shoreline sweep with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper on Saturday.
“I believe sustainability is the only way we will be able to combat climate change effectively,” said Vanessa Dwyer, a sophomore environmental geosciences major and public affairs director of the UB Environmental Network. “Each step toward a world that practices conservation will be a step closer to a healthier, safer and more liberating world.”
Earth Week events present students with ways to be sustainable in their own lives without having to make huge sacrifices, which is a vital step in bringing about lifestyles that don’t unknowingly harm the environment, Dwyer said.
UB’s numerous events during Earth Week are to raise awareness of sustainability while working toward zero waste. Zero waste is as close to a 100 percent diversion rate, or how much waste is diverted from landfills, as possible.
Evans said that UB Sustainability is working hard for UB to become a “climate neutral” campus by 2030 through the use of U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings. UB has nine LEED-certified buildings, with the most recent being Kapoor Hall on South Campus. The design and construction of these buildings allow them to be resource efficient and high performing.
“We have a long way to go, but following a trajectory that includes more LEED buildings and continuing with our great recycling and composting efforts, being climate neutral is possible for UB,” Evans said.
At the Sustainability Summit and Green SLICE awards presentation Wednesday, awards were given recognizing faculty, staff and students leaders in sustainability leadership. Erik Foley, managing director of the Sustainability Institute at Penn State University, was a guest speaker.
Alpha Kappa Chi (AKX), a co-educational professional environmental fraternity on campus, has sponsored events and volunteered throughout Earth Week. AKX had an eco-beauty display in the Student Union on Monday afternoon and on Saturday evening will host a formal benefit event for the Western New York Environmental Alliance at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery.
This year, AKX is co-sponsoring events with UB Campus Garden using the theme “Developing a Sustainable Economy through Conscious Consumption.”
The UB Campus Garden hosted a seed-starting and container-decorating event on Monday where participants decorated a container and planted a flower in it.
“During Earth Week, I would love to see increased participation by students, faculty and staff not involved in the planning process and increased awareness around campus of the importance of the message of Earth Week,” said Kelley Mosher, a senior environmental design and environmental studies major and president of AKX.
Mosher always wanted to be involved with promoting environmental awareness at a very young age. When she came to UB, she said she found that AKX was the organization most well-suited to helping her build connections with colleagues while pursuing her environmental desires.
One of the biggest events of the week was the launch of the Solar Strand educational app on Wednesday. During the launch of the app, about 150 fourth, fifth and sixth graders came to UB to learn about solar power through the app.
“The best way to make the campus more sustainable would be to truly engrain a culture of sustainability into students as they walk through the door,” Evans said in an email.
Relay for Life, an annual event to raise awareness and donations for cancer research, is also a part of Earth Week. The 12-hour charity event will take place in Alumni Arena starting at 4 p.m. Friday and concluding at 6 a.m. Saturday.
“The groups and clubs take advantage of the diversity of community and space at UB and create events that appeal to many different personality types and interests,” Mosher said.
As Earth Week comes to an end, UB Sustainability encourages students to continue their efforts toward a greener campus.
“I would urge people to open their eyes to what really goes on in the world, what their impact is and to question everything,” Evans said.
Gabriela Julia contributed reporting to this article.
Jashonda Williams is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org