UI organizations to celebrate Earth Month and promote sustainability

BY EMILY BURDS | APRIL 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Zip Cars, single-stream recycling, and bike repair stations — this is the work of the University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability.

Now, it will educate the community on sustainability through Earth Month.

UI student Ilsa DeWald spends her time outside the classroom working as an intern for the Sustainability Office.

“To me, sustainability is taking responsibility for your actions and knowing that those actions have effects beyond yourself,” she said.

The Sustainability Office works to promote such beliefs.

Earth Month involves the coming together of several different organizations on and off campus, including the UI Environmental Coalition, the UI Gardners, local artists, and the UI Museum of Natural History.

Each organization has hosted or will host its own event with the help of the Sustainability Office; at 7 p.m. today, the Sustainability Art Show will open in Public Space One, 129 E. Washington St.

Each event this year is geared toward providing the public with a vast and inclusive knowledge of the many ways in which to live an eco-friendly, sustainable life.

The Sustainability Office did not focus on any specific theme this year — the staff wanted to promote the “culture of sustainability,” said Hailey Courtney, an intern in the department.

“We really need to focus on rephrasing the way we approach sustainability,” she said. “It’s not just about less waste or cleaner air. It’s not just about ‘going green.’ It goes beyond that, and that is what we are trying to promote this month.”

One of the organizations working closely with the Sustainability Office during the Earth Month celebration is the Environmental Coalition, a student-run organization working to promote the environment and to protect it.

Co-President Jenna Ladde described her take on sustainability while working at last week’s Treasure Trade thrift event.

“I believe sustainability means to prepare and live in a way now that will leave a better world after we’re gone,” she said.

Ladde joined the Environmental Coalition as a freshman looking for a way to get involved. This month, she wants to show others the “numerous great causes to fight for” and how people don’t have to be in an environmental organization to get involved.

“We work with many different groups throughout the year to promote the sustainability mission,” DeWald said.

Outside the month of April, the Sustainability Office works with the Iowa City government along with campus organizations, such as Facilities Management, to create a cohesive, sustainable environment that doesn’t end on campus.

Looking beyond Earth Month, the Sustainability Office has plans.

“We are hoping to create a specific program during Orientation to teach incoming students sustainable habits and practices that are already implemented here on campus,” DeWald said. “We normally just have a table at the Organization Fair there, so this would be a great opportunity to expand.”

Courtney said, “Earth Month is really our last big event of the year before summer. We spend most of that time planning for what can be done during the school year, and we kick off again with the President’s Block Party in August, so you’ll see us there.”

What: Sustainability Art Show
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Public Space One, 129 E. Washington

What: Tree Seedling Planting/Trash Cleanup
When: 1 p.m. Friday
Where: Lower Finkbine Bike Trail (Meet in Lot 75 near Carver-Hawkeye Arena)

What: Earth Month 2013: Iowa Riverwalk Clean-Up
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: UI Water Plan, 208 E. Burlington

What: Student Garden Open House
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Student Garden off Hawkeye Park Road

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