UW News

April 16, 2009

Earth Day becomes Earth Week this year, with many events, activities

UW News

Earth Day is becoming Earth Week at the UW this year, with a host of events and activities at the UW Tacoma and on the Seattle campus. Mother Nature will be proud.

From work on its vegetable gardens to composting for home and office, informative dumpster diving and its first-ever “no-waste” event, the UW Tacoma is gearing up for the celebration of all things green. Earth Week there will run from April 18 to 24.

The Seattle campus will celebrate Earth Day, too, with The Green Coalition, a group of student clubs, taking the lead to offer a number of activities, displays and information tables for the campus community.

Earth Day, the annual day of attention to the environment, has been celebrated every April 22 since its founding in 1970.

Bridget Mason, an instructional lab coordinator for UW Tacoma’s Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program, is the main organizer for Earth Day events there, along with graduate student Kayomi Wada. Mason said she’s always been involved in outreach over ecological matters in other jobs — which include work for the Department of Ecology — so it was natural for her to continue those efforts after joining UWT.

The first event of the week, Mason said, will be for children. On the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service this January, volunteers at UW Tacoma began the campus Giving Garden, an area dedicated to raising food for low-income and homeless people. UWT will hold its first Children’s Learning Day at the garden from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 18. There will be hands-on demonstrations of composting, fruit tree maintenance, the installation of native plants to attract pollinators and the construction of four additional raised-beds for vegetables. After this will be a presentation by Tacoma Rescue Mission, to whom the garden harvest will be donated. If interested, e-mail with how many in your party to Wada at kayomi@u.washington.edu. Click to learn more about the Giving Garden.

The next event will be Monday’s Greening of UW Tacoma. “A lot of people don’t know about all the new green initiatives on campus, so we decided to do a tour,” Mason said. “You know we have a greenhouse on the top of the Science Building.”

The tour will include that garden as well as the Giving Garden and the location of the new rain gardens. These, Mason explained, are gardens of native plants good at absorbing pollutants, which filter and clean storm water before it heads out to Puget Sound.

Wondering how recycling at UWT is going? Then consider attending Garbology 101, at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 on the main campus stairs. There, in what’s being described as a “public art demonstration,” UWT staff will “dumpster-dive” to see if the campus is throwing away what should instead be recycled.

Talk will return to composting on Earth Day itself, Wednesday, April 22, with the Compost Kickoff. Participants will build worm bins for vermicomposting and bins will also be available for sale and composting for both home and office will be discussed. The worm bin workshop will be at 12:30 p.m. and discussion of compost-related topics at 1:30 p.m., both in SCI 209 on campus.

Composting enthusiasts — a number quickly growing on all three UW campuses — will be interested also in the workshop on Composting in the Office, offered by Beth Luce, UWT’s manager of public relations and marketing at 12:45 p.m., also in SCI209.

Luce said she’s been composting at home since moving to a rural area near Port Orchard in 2003, so she volunteered to hold a session on office composting — which is easier than you might think.

“When I started here in August I started an office compost bin in a Tupperware container. I made everybody here put their coffee grounds and banana peels in it and I’d take it home and put it on my compost pile at home,” Luce said.

People being receptive to the idea, Luce started promoting composting at work, too. “We started a pilot program by sending an e-mail to the campus, and we got nine offices that were willing to start. It’s been going for a few weeks now and when we do the workshop we’re hoping to get more people involved, and see where it goes from there.”

Luce is not the only compost enthusiast on campus, Mason said. “It’s pretty nerdy but everybody’s really excited. I almost want to buy everybody t-shirts that say, ‘I love compost!'”

Other UW Tacoma events will include biophysical chemist Arlene Blum speaking on Toxic Tragedies: Balancing Fire Prevention, Human Health and Environmental Protection on April 21 and a feature documentary called Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home on April 22.

Finally the events will end with the No-Waste Picnic, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, in the Commerce Plaza. Swiss, a nearby pub, will provide wrap sandwiches and there will be information on fair trade and other matters of sustainability.

Click to learn more about Earth Week events in Tacoma.

The Seattle campus will be in full celebration of Earth Day on April 22 with events sponsored by The Green Coalition, a new network of environmental student groups at the UW, said David Corrado, student organizer. The Green Coalition comprises Students Expressing Environmental Dedication (SEED), The Earth Club, the Sierra Student Coalition and WashPIRG.

“We’re trying to make Earth Day not only about environmental issues but also make it a celebration,” he said. So you will see dance demonstrations and an ultimate Frisbee tournament as well as food, music, an environmentally friendly art gallery and booths staffed by several companies, organizations and student groups from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the east lawn outside the HUB and in the HUB ballroom.

Other events will include a show of electric cars on Red Square, a rally to the Waterfront Activities Center and a social there, where the environmentally minded can meet and mingle, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Jerry Heinlen, CEO of Yakima Products, will speak on sustainability and there will be a showing of the film The Eleventh Hour from 6 to 9 p.m. in 220 Odegaard.

Corrado said there also will be calls to action on several environmental issues, including the use of bottled water and federal and state environmental legislation. Click to learn more about UW Seattle Earth Day events.

But wait, as they say on TV — that’s not all!

  • The UW Combined Fund Drive’s Meet the Charities series, where donors get to meet the agencies to which they contribute, will celebrate Earth Day by presenting the Cascade Land Conservancy and the Washington Native Plant Society, from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, in the Staff Services Building. Registration for this is requested but not required, and attendees will receive a small complimentary gift. Call 206-616-3678.
  • The UW Botanic Gardens and the Student Conservation Association will offer Earth Day at the Arboretum from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Washington Park Arboretum. Advance notes state, “Get your hands dirty for a cause removing non-native invasive plants, mulching, and improving the Arboretum. Bring the kids for an arborist’s demonstration, games, leaf rubbings, and more.” It’s free. Registration is requested (especially if you represent a group coming to the gardens) but not required. To register, contact Kristin at kmitchell@thesca.org or 206-324-4649.
  •  UWTV invites you to celebrate Earth Day by learning more about the earth-conscious efforts being explored by scientists and researchers at UW. UWTV offers a full day of programs about conservation, renewable energy, climate change and other environmental concerns all day on Wednesday, April 22. For the complete schedule, go to http://uwtv.org/schedule/week.aspx?date=4/19/2009

There are no formal Earth Day events at the UW’s Bothell campus, but they have plenty of environmentally friendly activities there year-round. Tony Guerrero, director of facilities, said the campus has 16 vermicomposting bins and four other benches that have worm compost underneath. The campus has been herbicide-free since July of 2006 and brings in goats once or twice a year to chomp away at brambles.

So take your pick and enjoy Earth Week. And consider composting, because, as Mason and her crew proudly proclaim, “A rind is a terrible thing to waste.”