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Friends of the Earth to celebrate the month

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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April means spring flowers, new grass, students sprawled on the Pentacrest and a renewed focus on sustainable living.

This month is Earth Month, and more than a dozen community and university environmental organizations are partnering to put on local events to promote sustainability.

Events kicked off last week, and George McCrory, the communications specialist for the Sustainability Office, said a lot of UI environmental organization members are involved with putting these events together.

“There are so many things you could do,” he said. “There are movies you can get outside. Really, a lot of the students organize this, which is one of my favorite things.”

The UI Office of Sustainability, College of Public Health, and School of Music are partnering to bring the Crossroads Project, which will blend music from the Fry String Quartet with science to focus on global issues including climate change, McCrory said.

One of the student organizations involved is the UI Environmental Coalition. Member Lidija Stojanovic said the group’s goal is to get students and faculty excited about practicing sustainable lifestyles that hopefully become a habit.

“We hope to encourage students to be more mindful of their waste habits because if we create an even more polluted Earth, it does not benefit our generation or the generations after us,” she said.

Fellow member Jenna Ladd said the coalition hopes to use Earth Month as a way to connect as many students and community groups for a common cause, and she hopes students realize there are small steps they can take to combat climate change.

“I just want students to feel empowered in any effort they make to help,” she said.

The Environmental Coalition is also partnering with 100 Grannies, a local environmental group, to host a reusable bag campaign in an effort to curb the number of plastic bags being used on campus and in the city, Stojanovic said. Community members can bring their plastic bags to the Pedestrian Mall on April 22 to receive a reusable grocery bag in exchange.

“Being partnered with community organizations is a huge tool for us because it allows us to promote what we’re about not just on campus but throughout Iowa City for people who aren’t students,” Stojanovic said.

Stojanovic and Ladd said they are most excited about the Treasure Trade on April 23. This is an event in which students are welcome to bring gently used clothing, furniture, shoes, etc. to trade with others, Ladd said.

“It’s always a great demonstration of the merits of reusing consumer goods, rather than always buying new,” Ladd said.

The city of Iowa City is also participating in this month’s events. Recycling coordinator Jennifer Jordan is organizing events with ECO Iowa City, an education program that aims to improve environmental sustainability.

Jordan said this year includes a good mix of old and new events. Traditional events such as seminars and film screenings will still be a part of the month’s agenda.

She said she is most excited about a new event being introduced this year called Craft Your Environment. This recycled craft fair is being organized by the Salvage Barn, a nonprofit organization that has a team of volunteers who go into homes that are being demolished and salvage items that can be reused.

Salvage Barn Executive Director Alicia Trimble said the event will feature more than 30 vendors who include recycled material in their products. The event will also allow attendees to exchange crafting materials and go to workshops on sustainable products.

Jordan said it will be interesting to see the community turnout.

“I know that the people organizing the events are excited, and I hope that the community comes out and is able to see what everyone is working on and gets involved,” Jordan said.


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