By Cara DiMaggio
The TCNJ Environmental Club hosted its annual Earth Week from Monday, April 18, to Friday, April 22. The week was filled with five days of activities and events, which culminated with the celebration of Earth Day.
This year, the club decided to focus on sustainability. Between one and three events aimed at educating the student body on environmental issues and providing them with potential solutions to use in their daily lives were held each day.
“Sustainability is a term that is often thrown around,” said Melissa Natividade, a sophomore journalism and graphic design double major and member of the TCNJ Environmental Club. “But really, sustainability is reducing your footprint, both on a communal level like this and on a personal level. So reducing meat consumption is huge. Another thing is reducing light usage, and reducing the amount of water you use is huge, as well.”
On Monday, April 18, the club showed a screening of the documentary “Cowspiracy.” The celebrated film explores how much energy goes into the production of meat and the impact the meat industry has on the environment.
Later in the week, chemistry Professor Michael Aucott discussed the importance of reducing the amount of harmful emissions released into the environment. While some of the events held throughout the week were more serious, others allowed students to play games and tackle environmental issues in a more lighthearted manner.
During the environmental festival and energize event, students were able to pot plants, design reusable bags and make bracelets out of recycled materials. Those in attendance were also given the opportunity to make personal pledges to go green.
Various organizations participated in and co-sponsored the weeks’ events, including the environmental festival, Bonner bike sale and campus-wide clean up. The latter event marked the end of the week and was arguably the main attraction.
“We have everyone sort the trash and recycling into two separate bags. Then they bring it back and we weigh each bag separately on a scale and tally up the weight,” said Eric Mauro, a senior electrical engineering major and president of the TCNJ Environmental Club. “We actually do this every other Sunday and keep track of the amounts so we can figure out how much garbage we picked up at the end of the year.”
Participants in the Earth Week clean-up collected 28.2 pounds of trash and 13.2 pounds of recycling from the campus grounds, according to Mauro.
While the week provided students with a fun way to get involved in environmental issues on campus, the TCNJ Environmental Club hopes that students will apply what they learned during the week to other communities as well.
“Our main goal is to spread the word and get people to think about their actions and how they’re impacting the environment,” said Katie Dickson, junior chemistry major and vice president of the TCNJ Environmental Club. “Focusing on the small steps that people can take without changing their lifestyle is important.
“Of course everyone has heard ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,’ but within that, we want to try to promote ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ over ‘recycle,’” Dickson said. “It would definitely be more effective to reduce our waste and reuse what we already have. We do education throughout the semester, but I was really surprised to see how little people actually even knew about the rules of recycling.”
The TCNJ Environmental Club believes that small, incremental action can lead to lasting impacts and hopes the message of sustainability will stay with students.
“We’re wasting so many resources, and resources are limited,” Mauro said. “So we’re trying to just make it so that we can be better off in the future by saving resources (now).”