Planet Earth was at the center of the Quad and students’ hearts Wednesday, April 24, in celebration of Earth Day.
Sponsored by the Albert Schweitzer Institute and QU Dining and hosted by Students for Environmental Action (SEA), the Earth Day Fair promoted speakers in the Piazza and vendors on the Quad.
“We need to make sure that students know what is going on in the world today and they understand that they can make a difference,” said sophomore Anna Marie Ciccarelli, an English and environmental studies double major. “They just need to know how to make a difference.”
Speakers included keynote speaker Melissa Goodall, the associate director of the Yale office of sustainability and Dr. Sean Duffy, the executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute and political science professor.
Duffy highlighted the importance of Earth Day by explaining the history behind the holiday. He started by speaking about Albert Schweitzer and his relevance to Earth Day.
“Schweitzer believed human beings should be looking at our place in the ecosystem, a larger ecosystem, and think about how we are willing to live amongst other life forms also willing to live and think of ourselves as interconnected in that way and have a reverence, a respect and an awe for other life forms,” Duffy said.
There were also four student speakers including Ciccarelli, senior computer information systems Franklin Ramsay, third-year public relations major Leah Lavin and sophomore film, television and media arts major Tyler Main.
“I personally believe that one of the biggest threat facing our planets isn’t our use of plastic,” Main said. “It is our own lack of belief in the butterfly effect. It is our lack of belief in doing small actions to make a big change. There are plenty of things you can do in your everyday life to reduce your use of plastic. Most of them are pretty small.”
Lavin introduced and concluded the day’s speakers. She said the goal of the fair was to inform, engage and excite the students.
“I hope that students who came to the event took away from it that although the idea of environmental sustainability can be kind of daunting and intimidating at times, it’s also something that can be interesting and exciting,” Lavin said.
Also speaking at the event was Ann Gadwah, the Chapter Chair for the Connecticut Chapter Sierra Club, Nancy Alderman, the president of Environment and Human Health, Dr. Courtney McGinnis, an associate professor of biological sciences and medical sciences, Savannah Harik, a municipal partnerships representative for WasteZero, Jesuina Hairston, the regional marketing director at Chartwells Higher Education and Kevin Blaney, an executive chef at Quinnipiac.
“I hope they [students] are inspired by the many things, small and large that we can still do to change our culture, our economy, and our society from one that is so wasteful of the Earth’s resources, and so damaging to the ecosystems we rely on to survive,” Duffy said.
[media-credit name=”Garret Reich” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Quad featured several sustainable vendors, activities, raffles, collections of reusable items and free food for students.
The vendors included Uptown Consignment, Kim Palencia, Kennedy’s Kitchen and Thyme & Season. There, they sold clothing, jewelry and food to support sustainable living.
Sociology major Erin LeDrew was at the Students for Environmental Action table, encouraging students to recycle.
“I am super passionate about the environment and I went on a study abroad trip that was focused on environmental action in Costa Rica,” LeDrew said. “They have already been doing Earth Day through the QU Sustainability Committee but they wanted to expand it. Since we just started this club, we wanted to have this opportunity to have people know about our club and recruit people.”
The problem, LeDrew said, is that supporting the environment can have an apathetic nature to it.
“We wanted to have fun, show people that there are little things you can do when you don’t want to be involved in the bigger steps,” LeDrew added.
Among events and tables were yoga on the Quad, free fair trade chocolate and candy, opportunities for planting succulent plants and making blankets for local animal shelters.
“The turnout has been amazing,” LeDrew said. “I have heard a lot of people say this was one of their favorite events they’ve seen so far, which is awesome.”