On Monday, the SUNY Fredonia campus began its fourth consecutive Earth Week celebration.
While Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, originating as a day of activism and awareness born from an oil spill off the cost of Santa Barbara, the campus has expanded its awareness efforts from a day, to a week, and to a year-long endeavor.
"We had just a comment that we should get people aware of what we already are doing, some kind of fair," Sherri Mason, Associate Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry said, referring to the first Sustainability Committee meeting held in the spring of 2007. "By the next time we met again in the fall of 2007 I said I want to organize Earth Week."
SUNY Fredonia students participate in Earth Week activities at SUNY Fredonia
Each day a different topic will be tackled on campus. The events are based on viral films by Annie Leonard and "The Story of Stuff" which began with one 20-minute YouTube video. From that she created "The Story of Stuff Project" with six or seven different videos. The committee took five of them to base each day on Monday was "The Story of Cap and Trade;" today is "The Story of Electronics;" Wednesday is "The Story of Cosmetics;" and Thursday is "The Story of Water Bottles." The videos of each can be found on YouTube.
"The idea is always to try and pull in and make things more real," Mason said. "When you connect people to something that's really tangible in their life it makes it a lot more relevant and then they start to care and see the importance. You have to have the awareness before you can have change."
Last year Earth Week exploded into an 11-day-long campaign with 42 events in total. This year the committee looked to focus its energy on Earth Week with a trimmed down number of events totaling 22 in seven days, however, the committee spread out events beginning with the Sustainability Series which began in January and that continues through May.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Terence Mosher, associate English professor with a passion for Environmental Literature, conducts a Nature Walk on the SUNY Fredonia campus to kick off Earth Week.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Mike Taney, College University Channel Sales Manager with Nestle Foods, hands out food samples and explains Nestle’s sustainability efforts to students on campus as part of the first Sustainability Expo Vendor Show.
"It is all tied into the fact that sustainability isn't about one day, sustainability is something we need to do every day," Mason said. "Trying to continue that awareness and grow that awareness where it becomes an everyday thing and not just a one-day thing and not just a one-week thing."
To begin the week's events, Terence Mosher, Associate English Professor with a passion for Environmental literature, took students on two nature walks through the Ring Road woods.
"We share the campus with a lot of other forms of life, a lot of plant and animal life," Mosher said. "Opening our eyes and seeing it makes life around this campus a lot more interesting and a lot richer."
According to Mosher, at least 43 species of trees grow on the campus, at least 65 species of birds nest on the campus, and in the course of a year probably 150 species of birds pass through the campus. He also noted that there were the mammals around campus including deer and four species of squirrels.
"It's just a fascinating place for other kinds of life that we forget is here because we get so absorbed in just human activities," he added.
Inside away from the snow, students learned how companies whose products are purchased and used by the college campus and its students are practicing sustainability efforts thanks to the first ever Sustainability Expo Vendor Show in the Williams Center.
"What we wanted to do was bring in vendors and suppliers, manufacturers, brokers, etcetera, to showcase, present information and be equipped to answer questions about the sustainability efforts of their companies. We buy products from many of these companies," Director of Dining Services with the Faculty Student Association at SUNY Fredonia Mike Proffer said. "The key component here is these are real live businesses that we have relationships with, so these products are on campus. It evolves around not only food products but also chemicals and packaging."
One of the more popular vendor tables among college students attending - and quite possibly because it was serving some mean chili and pasta - was that of Mike Taney, College University Channel Sales Manager with Nestle Foods.
"We're sharing with them the Nestle Global Sustainability Initiative," he said. "This is an important issue within college universities so it's a good opportunity for us to explain the steps we're taking to improve our sustainability."
For example, Taney explained, Nestle is working to take products out of a typical Stouffer's aluminum containers and put into a more sustainable pouch; and also on display was a Coffee-mate pump bottle to be used instead of individual creamer packets. Samples of Penne and Vodka Sauce and Beef Chili distributed in pouches were available to sample.
Known for its eco-friendly mentality around campus, the Buster Brown Bean Company represented by co-owner David Culver was also participating in the Expo.
"Pretty much everything we serve as far as coffee is concerned has some type of eco-friendly basis to it," Culver said. "We like to say we're a globally conscious company."
Culver explained that it begins with their roasting plant, which is bullfrog powered and leaves a minimal carbon footprint in production.
"The Story of Cap and Trade" a Video Presentation and Debate featuring College Democrats and Conservatives concluded Monday's events. Today's events begin at 2 p.m. with a Nature Writing Convocation in the Japanese Garden Room, followed by "The Story of Electronics" showing and panel discussion at 7 p.m. in the Williams Center.
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