The Highlander

Earth Week Flourishes

Hailey Shields, Reporter

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Hailey Shields
A poster board warns against excess plastic usage.

The university celebrated Earth Week April 16 to 20.

The celebration started a week early, with events leading up to Earth Day on April 22.

Dr. Cynthia March, chair of the Environmental Sustainability Committee, committee members and students were in charge of Earth Week this year.

“Earth Week is really important because ‘Care for Earth’ is one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy and because of that and being a Mercy college, it is one of our critical concerns,” said March.

The committee’s chosen theme:  reducing single use plastic.

“We want to help people be aware of the use of reusable sustainable cups and beverage containers and think twice about using straws,” said March.

Events included a stainless-steel beverage water bottle raffle, a DIY mason jar terrarium, re-useable cups available for purchase at Starbucks, a ‘Skip the Straw’ campaign, an MU recycling exhibit, window art in the residence halls, a plastic water bottle display, and an end-of-the week Earth Day prayer.

“I love the sea of plastic video,” said March, “and I am also excited that we are encouraging people to do skip the straw, and I hope that we are going to move even beyond Earth Week and come back to that again.”

Another event important to March is one that addresses the university’s recycled trash versus versus contaminated trash. The event visually demonstrated  how much of the campus community’s refuse is recycled. Contaminated recyclable items cannot be added to other recycled products.

“Last year we had more contaminated then we had recycling. We are hoping because we have been good reports, that people are doing better at recycling. We are hoping that we see the actual recycling side being higher,” said March.

Students handed out posters for many events. Examples include “7 Single-Use Swaps” for everyday items and “Say No to Single-Use Plastics, Take the 4-Rs Pledge.” The 4-Rs pledge instructs students to  refuse disposable plastic, reduce plastic use, reuse items like bags and water bottles and recycle what they cannot refuse, reduce or reuse.

Metz Food Service, Residence Life, Employee MU Leadership Team and Mission Integration Department, also sponsored events.

“I think the Earth is worth celebrating in itself, the beauty of the Earth and the things that we take for granted sometimes,” said March, “and we forget that it is not an unlimited resource. We have to remember that in order to have it for future generations.”

Educating the community about the Earth encourages more people to help preserve it.

“Earth week is a way of just highlighting the need for us not to take the Earth for granted and the resources,” said March.

This year’s event included a greater number of activities that added to the flourishing annual Earth Week celebration, which was started in 2000 by Cougars for Change whose members joined students from Mercy colleges at a conference about the environment and sustainability. Earth Week events continue to grow, March said.

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Earth Week Flourishes