The first annual Earth Week was held at Quinnipiac University from Monday, April 20 to Thursday, April 23, and it highlighted special themes based on student interests. The exit to the Café was decorated with banners, posters and handouts highlighting important environmental issues and ways students could make a change.
Earth Week was sponsored by the Sustainability Interest Group, or SIG. SIG is a group of faculty and students that has only been meeting since the beginning of this spring semester and was planned only a few months before. Their plan was to have an Earth Day celebration, but decided one day would not be enough.
“The point was for us to meet and start exchanging ideas,” said Biology Lab Coordinator Kristen Richardson. “This particular Earth Week for this year is a venue for us to display ideas.”
Richardson became the advisor to the Roots and Shoots organization this year. Before this year, Roots and Shoots had been on its own and effectively boosted recycling programs on campus in addition to other community service projects.
Roots and Shoots focuses on care for animals, the human community and the environment. Service projects center on those three broad topics.
Monday’s events were themed around water. Tuesday’s events were based on energy. Wednesday was Richardson’s favorite day and the day she believed to be most effective, based on food consumption. Thursday had events on the environment, sustainability and biodiversity. Thursday also hosted the big event of Earth Week, a Hybrid Car Showcase outside of Alumni Hall.
The daily displays were purposely housed next to the Café because of Chartwells’ significant role in environmental changes on campus. The recent purchase of reusable cups for the Café originally started as a class project of students from a biology class. Chartwells also paid for the table rental and skirts for underneath the tables which SIG would have otherwise not have been able to fit into budget.
Richardson hopes to make Earth Week an annual event and hopes to increase the size of it for next year. She defined the goal of SIG to be able to keep doing something over a long period of time.
“As far as the planet goes, that’s what our concern is, to sustain. We’d like to keep living here,” Richardson said. “I really hope that next year I’ll be talking to SGA to bring student groups together for a bigger Earth Week. I hear through the new president, Lou Venturelli, that SGA really wants to make campus greener as well.”
The long-term goal for Richardson, Roots and Shoots and SIG is to increase awareness and bring the Quinnipiac community together.
“There is definitely a feeling I get from people that this campus is not green at all, but we’re starting in the right direction,” Richardson said. “I just want to educate people about what we are doing and how to be greener. We can come together and make a bigger impact.”
In her opinion, the first Earth Week has done well and served the purpose of getting student exposure to the community.
“There are people that think we can’t make a significant change and that’s just not true. If everyone does a small thing, we can make a big impact,” Richardson said. “I’ll be the eternal optimist.”
Thursday’s hybrid car showcase, ran by professor Kristen Wolfe, included a procession of six hybrid cars across the Quad.
“Toyota of Wallingford, Executive Honda of Wallingford and Partyka Chevrolet of Hamden [each provided] a hybrid [as well],” Wolfe said. QU staff provided a Prius and a Smart Car.
Despite the small student turnout, Wolfe said she plans to make the car display an annual Earth Week event.
“The QU Sustainability Interest Group is planning on expanding Earth Week activities next year, and we will do this again with environmentally friendlier cars,” Wolfe said. “Maybe next year we can get an all-electric car, the new Prius with the solar roof, and any other newer, ‘greener’ transportation modes that are available.”
Like Wolfe, Richardson has plans of expanding her project. She hopes to see the Quinnipiac community become more aware of their consumption. She and University Counselor Kerri Johnson are working on getting a farmer’s market started at QU.
“We would like to do one in the student center or at the North Haven campus,” Richardson said. “One of my dreams is to [also] have a garden on campus.”
For college students, living green is easier said than done, but Richardson said it’s the little things that really add up.
“College students are so focused on convenience,” she said. “[Going green] is turning off the lights and TV, printing double-sided, eating locally, not using a car and doing full loads of laundry.”