While the rest of the world celebrated Earth Day on April 22, Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability and the Eco-Rep leadership program have been helping the campus commemorate the annual occasion since April 13 through its Earth Week celebration.
The theme of Earth Day’s 2019 celebration on campus is “Embrace Nature and its Values,” which took inspiration from the official Earth Day theme, “Protect Our Species.”
“It’s an opportunity for the campus to come together to celebrate the beauty and bounty of our planet and our campus here at Lehigh,” said Katharine Targett, the Office of Sustainability’s program coordinator.
Events that have occurred during the week have included the annual South Side cleanup, a sustainability team trivia event, a bike tour, a cheese tasting event and a succulent planting event.
“Our office works with other offices, departments and student organizations to put together a meaningful grouping of events for that week.” Targett said.
Many of the events occurring during the week came to fruition with help from Eco-Reps Events Coordinator Matthew Fainor, ’20.
The succulent planting event was organized by Eco-Reps and was held in residence halls, such as the Farrington Square D lounge.
Students were able to learn about succulents and plant their own in reusable containers like Saxby’s cups, soup cans, Tupperware containers and water bottles.
Jane Le, ‘20, the campus digital advertising, marketing and outreach coordinator for Eco-Reps, was one of the students who planned the events, along with Julia Bebout, ’21, Sally Gu, ’21, Sam Margolin, ’21, and Lina Oumera, ’21.
“We’re putting the plants in nice little containers, but at the same time, we’re diverting the waste stream,” Le said.
Terri Hahn, ‘20, who attended the event, said the event and Earth Week as a whole is exciting because it has a meaningful impact while also incorporates fun.
Earth Week concluded with the annual Earth Day Fair on Earth Day itself, at the University Center front lawn. In the past, the fair was a few days before or after Earth Day because of scheduling.
“We’re focused on having students learn to be more sustainable in their everyday practices,” said Jessica Levy, ‘20, the Eco-Reps’ residence hall coordinator. “We’re just really trying to help people be more sustainable in their daily activities and realize that what they’re doing does impact the planet.”
On-campus organizations, local Bethlehem community organizations, campus offices and vendors from the community were at the fair.
There was a live wildlife demonstration, a tree-planting activity, crafts and food.
Targett said a goal of the fair is to produce as little waste as possible. The organizations or individuals participating by hosting a booth should be supplying giveaways or other items that would be able to be used in the future.
“Earth Day is every day, but we’re really centralizing our sustainability efforts throughout this week so that people recognize environmentalism as an important issue,” Le said.