Celebrate Earth Day for a whole week at Quinnipiac

Emily DiSalvo and David Matos

For the first time, the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) organization at Quinnipiac University will be celebrating Earth Day, April 22, with an entire week of activities.

The SEA club picked up trash at Sleeping Giant State Park on Sunday. (Photo from Anna Ciacciarella)

In a year when being outside is the safest way to operate, the SEA will be holding Earth Week events on campus and online so no matter where you are, you can participate.

“Earth Week is going to be an event you have never seen before at Quinnipiac,” said Sofia Ciacciarella, a senior biology major and secretary of SEA. “There are going to be events every single day of the week. We have thousands of dollars budgeted into these events and buying prizes so lots of students will come.”

The planning for the event started back in September. Last spring, Earth Day festivities moved online, so SEA members are hoping this year’s celebration will be unforgettable.

“It’s important to realize the Earth that supports us,” said Victoria Ward, a senior English major and vice president of the SEA. “It is important to know our impact on it and what it does for us, what we do for it in return. It is important to know about environmental justice. While those issues may seem minor now, they are coming up a lot quicker than people seem to realize.”

The SEA created an Earth Week Committee with four subsections: community outreach, campus outreach, event planning and action and activism. The group has been meeting weekly since the start of the spring semester to divide tasks.

“The reason the week will be successful is because we are working as a collective,” said Anna Ciacciarella, president of the SEA and a senior English and environmental studies double major. “We are recognizing each other’s strengths and working to those strengths. We really just work together as a group and try to incorporate everyone’s own visions.”

In past years, Earth Day has been a celebration of sustainable living. This year, Anna Ciacciarella said the events will be celebratory, while also promoting activism and inclusivity.

“The environmental movement has a lot of controversy with inclusion and diversity, and we have to recognize that there are environmental issues that are much greater and affect people of color and indigenous people at higher proportions,” Anna Ciacciarella said. “It’s been celebratory in the past. That’s great. We should be celebrating the small successes and little changes we make, but we have to look at the whole system.”

The event has over 20 sponsors from organizations spanning from Greek Life to the Student Government Association and the Black Student Union.

On Sunday, April 18, the SEA invited students to participate in a nature photo contest with the chance to win a $100 Cheshire Nursery gift card. Also on April 18, students helped clean up Sleeping Giant State Park.

“It’s a nice way to get outside, clean up the local park and enjoy the weather,” Ward said.

On Monday, Dr. Morgan Pinkerton discussed farm to table sustainability initiatives, and the SEA gave away a prize basket with the Quinnipiac Political Science Association. In the afternoon, residential assistants on York Hill provided tips for sustainable living in college.

Graphic by Michael Clement

In the evening on Monday, the SEA held a Zoom bingo for Earth Week, and this is one of the events that the SEA executive board said it was most excited about.

“The prizes are bigger than normal,” Ward said. “We have Airpods, a (Nintendo) Switch, gift cards, stuff like that.”

The main event on Tuesday was a speaker series lasting from 12 to 4:30 p.m. which will feature faculty, staff, students and outside guests to talk about agriculture, composting and more.

Earth Week trivia will take place on Wednesday evening, and each of the five rounds will have a different theme related to environmental justice. One will be on cases of environmental injustice around the country and another will recognize Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) leaders in the environmental movement.

“In having an event like trivia, we are making sure we are able to give away really great prizes but more importantly centralizing conversations that aren’t happening on campus and making sure they are happening,” Anna Ciacciarella said.

The signature event will be on Thursday April 22, Earth Day. The Earth Day fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Quad.

“If you come to the Earth Day fair, you get entered into a raffle to win an iPad,” said Isabella Vega, a senior biology major and public relations and marketing officer for the SEA. “I am just really excited to see everyone go because it will be pretty big this year.”

This year’s Earth Day fair will feature tabling from student organizations. For example, the Community Action Project (CAP) will have a station where attendees can make craft kits for local elementary school kids and hygiene kits for a local women’s shelter.

The American Society of Civil Engineers will host a cornhole tournament with sets its members built themselves. NaturallyMe, an organization focused on promoting natural hair, will have a table featuring sustainable self-care products.

That night at 9:15 p.m., there will be an open mic event for students to share any work that follows the theme of the environment. The event will be on Zoom, so students who are remote and missed the fair on the Quad can still participate.

The week-long event winds down on Friday and Saturday with more speakers, a campus action day and the opportunity to help plant some blueberry bushes in the new rain garden at the Albert Schweitzer Institute.

“We are going to be planting the plants on the berm that was just created,” Ward said. “We created a rain garden and a berm at the Big Event.”

The berm will prevent extra water from the rain from flowing into the nearby Mill River.

Anna Ciacciarella said that in the past, it has been hard to have conversations about sustainability at Quinnipiac. She hopes this week will start to change all of that.

“The university released a sustainability plan and launched a sustainability section of the qu.edu website and while we did that, I am not really seeing a lot of change on the ground,” Ciacciarella said. “I am really excited our organization is doing this event. I am really happy SEA exists because we are a part of a lot of the changes. It’s not just a policy that needs to change or the campus culture, but the system of how the university functions as an institution.”

For those passionate about the environment, Earth Week is a chance to share that excitement with the whole campus community.

“Since high school I have cared about the environment and when I first learned about the club I knew I had to join,” Vega said. “I feel like everyone should care about the Earth because we are all on the planet so we might as well take care of it. You get a sense of pride to do the right thing to help save the environment. I love teaching people about it because then they can do the right thing, too.”

Not on campus?

Though many of us are still homebound, there are still several ways we can partake in Earth Day safely from home.

Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new way of life where many of our usual in-person experiences have to be enjoyed virtually, and unfortunately this monumental occasion is no exception.

Here are three ways you can celebrate the Earth from home.

Attend virtual events
A multitude of virtual Earth Day events are planned for this week. The Environmental Film Festival is hosting a free movie marathon on its website. The films will only be available from Thursday, April 22, through Sunday, April 25.

The Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will be hosting a virtual event in the evening of April 20. The event will feature a number of talking points relating to environmental justice and the climate crisis. Earthday.org is also hosting a live digital global affair on Earth Day beginning at noon.

The discussion will cover several topics like climate and environmental literacy, reforestation and the emergence of environmentally-friendly technologies to name a few.

Check out the virtual events that the Students for Environmental Action club at Quinnipiac University are hosting on its Instagram @qu_sea_.

Repurpose old household items
If you’re feeling crafty, make an art project out of the waste you find around your home. You can use an old egg carton to make a D.I.Y. pot for your plants. You can turn a tissue box into a container to store your reusable straws. The options are endless on what you can do with seemingly useless waste. Another fun Earth-conscious activity you can do is to upcycle your old clothing. With just the help of a needle and thread, you can transform that old pair of jeans into a fashionable tote bag.

Challenge yourself to be more environmentally conscious
Partake in the Earth Day Ecochallenge. The program has you select an environmental action of your choice from a list of Earth-related categories. Once you start the challenge you must commit to completing it within a 30-day period. Some of the categories you can choose from are wildlife, oceans, fresh water, people, food, forests and climate. You can join as a team or individually. When you complete your goal you not only earn points, but you earn the experience of recreating a better Earth.

Earth Day is often an overlooked holiday. If we want to build a more substantial future for our planet, we must all do our part. Whether you’re on campus or stuck at home, everyone must devote some of their time to learn new eco-friendly habits. It should be everyone’s mission to help rebuild our planet.