As once said by the 32nd First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson, “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” Unfortunately, we as humans haven’t done the best job of sharing and preserving our environments. Whether it’s littering, pollution, or climate issues, the health of our planet may be being taken for granted, but all hope isn’t lost.
This year’s Earth Day, which takes place on Sunday, April 22, is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to change our attitude and behavior toward plastics and plastic pollution. According to the Earth Day Network, the exponential growth of plastics is having a huge negative impact on our planet: from poisoning and hurting marine life to affecting human hormones to littering some of our greatest bodies of water. Sherri Mason, a professor from SUNY Fredonia, has made her name known nationally with her research on plastic pollution in freshwater ecosystems, specifically the nearby Great Lakes, for a number of years. We first learned about her and her work back in 2013.
Now, with this work before us influencing action, a strategy has been put in place to help educate and mobilize citizens and other key players about this important issue. Through education, demanding action from corporations and our government, partnering with organizations, working with universities and students, and taking advantage of the media to spread the words about this cause, we can make some headway on reducing our carbon footprint and taking care of our planet.
So what can you do to help? These options are quick and easy for all the students, parents, faculty, and staff at SUNY:
Don’t have the means or the desire to host your own event but would like to attend one? You’re in luck! Our campuses are committed to protecting the environment and promoting sustainability through cutting-edge research and student-run advocacy groups, and many SUNY schools are getting involved with this year’s Earth Day 2018 Campaign. Here’s some of the things taking place this year.
Earth Fest 2018, which is hosted by Earth Day Southern Tier, is taking place at SUNY Broome Community College this year. Earth Fest is one of the longest-running celebrations of Earth Day in the nation and is a respected Southern Tier institution. The event will run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on April 29.
Attendees can partake in a Southern Tier Bike Club River Trails Bike Cruise, interact with businesses and vendors, and enjoy the live music, food, demonstrations, and free giveaways. SUNY Broome’s Ecology Club will be there too, operating a book exchange and clothing recycling drop-off program for the event. Fuel-efficient cars will also be on display.
Earlier in April, SUNY Empire State College announced a sustainability initiative that will launch on Earth Day, called “Commencement Closet,” to collect already used SUNY Empire regalia and provide to future graduates. Graduates who benefit from this initiative by receiving donated regalia will be asked to “pay it forward” and keep the cycle of goodwill going by returning the regalia to the college to be used for the following year.
Used regalia will be collected, laundered, and provided to upcoming graduates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the class of 2018 graduates will be the first class to have the opportunity to donate their regalia.
Regalia in like-new condition can be donated to SUNY Empire Commencement Closet at any one of the college’s 34 locations across New York State, or by mail to Janet Aiell0-Cerio, 2 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866-6079.
For more information on this great initiative, visit here.
Already well under way, SUNY ESF is hosting Earth Week from April 16-22 to show their love for our planet. Notable events include an Eco-Scavenger Hunt, a campus clean-up, a plant-based luncheon, and plenty of opportunities to get your tie-dye on.
Earth Week will conclude on Sunday, April 22, with Earth Fest, which is a free community-wide, sustainability-themed music and arts festival. Earth Fest will run from 12:00-4:00 p.m. in the Thornden Park Amphitheater, with a yoga session starting at 11:30 a.m. Earth Fest will feature local musicians, artists, community and student organizations, prominent speakers, and local vendors and food trucks.
The event was sponsored by JCC’s Earth Awareness Club, which provides environmental awareness and education at the local, regional, and global levels. The club focuses its efforts on issues such as deforestation, global warming, species extinction and habitat loss, wetland destruction, watershed ecology, energy efficiency, and many others.
On Thursday, April 19, the Middletown Earth Day celebration will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the Alumni Green. The following day, the Newburgh Earth Day Fair will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and various speakers will take the stage in the Great Room from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Both events will feature a great variety of eco-friendly events, student club displays, Ask-a-Master Gardner, green career information, a plant sale, and more. Additionally, both campuses will have an E-Waste Collection on site.
On Tuesday, the Stony Brook Environmental Club marched through the campus in advocacy of reducing consumption and the waste surrounding commercially produced food. Other events that took place throughout the week include a sustainability students alumni panel, a yoga session on the green, and talks centered on climate change, human-caused global warming, and the effects that space exploration has on our environment.
The Earthstock Festival itself will be held on Friday, April 20 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., where attendees can check out a farmers market, student performances, and the environmental student research exhibition, among other attractions.
On Thursday, April 19, SUNY Sullivan will host a variety of events across campus in celebration of Earth Day. From 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., campus clubs and organizations, as well as community groups, will participate in the day’s events, including SUNY Sullivan’s Earth Guardians and the college’s Garden Club.
Vendors in attendance will be exhibiting and handing out promotional and education materials, and guests can enjoy a Climate Change Arts Show, as well as participate in campus-wide sustainability tours. Visitors can also enjoy the Simmons LIVE Wildlife Show, which features animals such as lion, tiger, and bear cubs, as well as eagles, owls, and alligators.
Whether it’s reducing your usage of plastic water bottles, making an effort to use reusable grocery bags, or participating in local clean-up events, every little bit counts to making our planet a cleaner and healthier place. So what will you do today to help save our planet? Comment below or share your thoughts with us on Twitter or Facebook!
Julie is the assistant director for student mental health and wellness for SUNY System Administration.