April 15, 2015

Campus community to celebrate Earth Day

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Continuing its strong and ongoing commitment to sustainability, Southern Illinois University Carbondale is celebrating Earth Day with a variety of special activities. 

In anticipation of the April 22 observance, students will conduct a special one-day “waste audit” on Thursday, April 16, at the Student Center, one of the largest campus facilities. 

Student volunteers will sort through trash and separate it into recyclable, compostable or landfill waste piles. They will weigh each pile, reporting the data on Earth Day. Organizers hope when people see how much of what is discarded as trash could actually be composted or recycled, they will be encouraged to increase campus recycling and waste reduction. 

New this year to the April 22 Earth Day celebration is the “Green Your Selfie” social media contest. Similar to a scavenger hunt, students will be snapping pictures of themselves and/or friends “going green” at various locations around campus, then sharing the photos via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Sustainability Office will release more details and suggested locations and “going green” activities on its website. Prizes, including $50 gifts cards from Amazon and the University Bookstore, as well as refillable water bottles and coffee mugs, will go to the most creative and inspiring photos. 

Also planned for April 22 is an activity and information fair in the Art Gallery on the first floor of Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Activities will include a free book giveaway, a recycling game, a temporary display from the Students Composing Space registered student organization and a collaborative vision tree. People are invited to write their thoughts, suggestions and reflections on paper and tie them to a special “tree.” The tree will then become both a vision of what sustains people and what they would like to see at SIU. Organizers say it is likely there will be a flash mob, presented by the Saluki Charming Majorettes registered student organization, during the fair. 

At the north end of the Student Center, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., weather permitting, everyone is welcome to stop by and create chalk sustainable sidewalk art. The Craft Shop and its Saluki Spokes bicycle repair program will be on hand as well.  They’ll also be providing examples of solar heater workshop projects. 

Be sure to check out the “You Are What You Waste” life-sized plastic covered “trash” person created by Alexis Kimbrell, a senior art major from Albion. Plans call for it to be on display at the waste audit and at Earth Day festivities. 

The newest recipients of the campus Green Fund Awards will be announced at a 4 p.m. reception in the Old Main Lounge. Former and current Green Fund grant recipients are invited to attend, network and share ideas and successes. Light refreshments will follow.  

For more information about Earth Day 2015 at SIU, visit www.sustainability.siu.edu, email sustainability@siu.edu, or call 618/453-2846. 

Also, in conjunction with Earth Day, there will be a “Garden on the Roof” event at 4 p.m. in Room 209 at the Agricultural Building on campus. Karen Midden, associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, organized a project in 2010 involving more than 150 students, volunteers, faculty and staff working together to create a rooftop garden on the Agricultural Building. The roof helps control storm water runoff and water pollution, reduces heating and cooling costs for the building, and serves as a hands-on research center for students. 

Garden on the Roof participants will tour the green roof and also get to view the rain garden, permeable pavers and the indoors vertical garden. Those attending are asked to enter the building on the north section and take the elevator or stairs to the section floor to reach the Ag Seminar Room. At 4 p.m. that day, free public parking will be available in Lot 39, off Lincoln Drive between the Life Science III and Agriculture buildings. In case of rain, the garden session will be rescheduled to 4 p.m. on April 27. The event co-sponsor is the Sierra Club’s Shawnee Group. 

Wrapping up the day’s sustainability-related events is “The Future of the Mind,” a Distinguished Speaker Series lecture by Michio Kaku at 7:30 p.m. at the Student Center. Kaku is a theoretical physicist and best-selling author. 

As the semester draws to a close in the next few weeks, the Sustainability Office is again coordinating the “Give and Go!” project May 8-16 to reduce waste and increase reusing and recycling efforts as students finish classes and move back to their homes for the summer. The office will collect clothing and bedding, shoes, purses, bags, housewares, small electronics, cleaning products and unopened food items. Donations will be collected in all campus residence halls. All of the items will go to new homes. 

When the drive was held last year, two carloads of housewares, bedding and coats were collected for the International Student Loan Closet. In addition, several boxes of nice clothing went to Career Services to help those who can’t afford professional attire for job interviews, numerous truckloads of clothing and bedding went to other charitable organizations, and more than 650 pounds of food were donated to a student food pantry. Organizers hope to build on the program this year. 

For details, contact Kris Schachel, sustainability coordinator, at 618/453-2846 or by email at sustainability@siu.edu