April is often nicknamed Earth Month due to nationally recognized events such as Earth Day, National Day of Service and National Volunteer Week. Both the sustainability and recycling units in Facilities Management took advantage of the month of April to spread awareness of sustainable practices and provide the campus community opportunities to get involved. This year saw a large increase in participation at each event.
Last year, there was only one tree planting event that involved 12 volunteers and 50 trees planted around campus. Due to an increase in interest, this year included two tree planting events at Davis Pond and Hechenbleikner Lake, yielding 80 volunteers and 145 trees. That’s almost triple the number of trees added to campus from last year!
Earth Day Festival
This year marked the 49th annual recognition of Earth Day, a day devoted to increasing environmental awareness. To celebrate, an Earth Day Festival was held at Belk Plaza, welcoming local vendors and campus partners to share information about how their areas are making sustainable choices. This year’s event was larger than ever, including food trucks, additional vendors and increased attendance. This was also the first major event held at the newly-renovated Belk Plaza.
Stemming from National Volunteer Week, the campus also held a campus cleanup event at three locations for students, faculty and staff to help minimize negative environmental impacts by picking up litter. This bi-annual event also saw an increase in participation. This year involved about 140 volunteers that cleaned up areas near McMillan Greenhouse, Laurel Hall and Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory. Volunteers collected 261 pounds of landfill, over 85 pounds of recycling and an additional 47 pounds of other litter.
“It was great to see such participation in this event,” said Darcy Everett, recycling project manager. “Volunteers are always amazed at the amount of litter they find on campus. One group even found a bicycle! We are just happy to see so many people utilizing the Chancellor’s approved release time to participate in these events.”
E-waste and Professional Attire Collection
In collaboration with Informative Technologies and the Jamil Niner Student Pantry, an e-waste and professional attire collection was held later in the month to continue sustainable efforts on campus. Over 100 pounds of e-waste was collected. This waste will either be recycled properly or restored for families in need by Informative Technologies. Dozens of articles of clothing were also collected for the pantry to donate to individuals in the campus community who need attire for interviews, internships and other events. This is the third consecutive semester this event has occurred.
The overall outcome of this year’s Earth Month activities proved to be successful with such increases in volunteerism and attendance. Hopefully each upcoming year yields the same increase, furthering the University’s sustainability focus.
Story: Tenille Dellinger
Photography: University Communications