UW News

April 15, 2010

Campus gone green: Happy 40th birthday, Earth Day

UW News

Who says it’s not easy being green? For Earth Day’s 40th birthday on Thursday, April 22, students and staff are planning a variety of ways you can do just that, and learn about sustainability along the way. So go ahead and eat a little eggplant — it won’t kill ya — and then compost that paper plate, please.

Like every year, the HUB lawn will be the central location for Earth Day activities, with a sustainability fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where there will be music, activities, art and booths staffed by businesses and groups focused on environmental issues. There will even be a “compost audit,” showing what’s compostable and what is not (and by the way, most drink and coffee cup lids on campus now are compostable.)

Husky Green Awards: This year, the celebration will include announcement of who was given the first-ever Husky Green Awards, chosen by the UW Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee to recognize faculty, staff and students showing leadership, initiative and dedication to environmental stewardship on the UW’s three campuses.

The committee, which is overseen by Evans School Dean Sandra Archibald, evaluated about 40 nominations before choosing award winners for 2010. “We didn’t want to put too much structure on it because it was the first year we’re offering it,” said Aubrey Batchelor, staff assistant with the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office, who has helped organize that office’s Earth Day efforts.

The Husky Green Awards ceremony will last for about an hour and begin at 12:15 p.m. on the HUB lawn. Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien will deliver opening remarks, followed by comments by Provost Phyllis Wise. Then Bruce Balick, professor of astronomy and current chair of the Faculty Senate, will announce the winners of the award. There will be music by local bands before and after the awards ceremony, and many booths to visit.

The award winners won’t be released until Earth Day, but this much is already known: The Husky Green Award will not be limited to any one person, group or project. In fact, there are eight winners of this year’s awards.

Art, light bulbs and more: Student art on the theme of sustainability will be shown in the HUB Gallery from April 19 to May 3, said Maggie Cheek, a student organizer of Earth Day activities who is with the campus Green Coalition. The art will be brought outside for the fair on the lawn, she said, if the weather approves.

Batchelor said the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Office will host a booth, as it did last year, to give away free energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs and handouts provided by Seattle City Light.

The UW Combined Fund Drive office has chosen an Earth Day theme for its monthly Meet the Charities workshop. They’ll hold an interactive workshop from noon to 1 p.m. in 209B HUB featuring EarthShare Washington and Nature Vision, two charities that receive CFD funds. “Learn about the animals of King County while exploring touchable pelts, bird mounts, a rubber scat, and more,” the CFD Web site states. “Then venture into the food web of the compost bin and learn how the nutrient cycle works by delving into compost trays from a worm bin filled with live decomposers.”

Eateries on Earth Day: Housing & Food Services is getting into the Earth Day act with special lunch and dinner menus of sustainable foods at the Eleven O1 Cafe in Terry Hall and 8 at McMahon. You can get that eggplant in the form of a veggie sandwich at 8 at McMahon, or lunch on smoked Northwest salmon with linguini at Eleven O1, among other items. Those two eateries will hold open houses from 1 to 3 p.m. on Earth Day and will give out free Tully’s coffee and cookies from Pink’s Original Bakery. All HFS locations are open to all faculty, staff, students and their guests. And if you bring your own mug to any HFS location selling coffee through June 11, your drip coffee will only cost a buck.

Micheal Meyering, HFS project manager, said he will bring six or eight compost bins to the HUB lawn and go through them in a “compost audit” to show how well the campus knows its composting.

The Recycling and Solid Waste office, part of Faculties Services, will set up what they call “talking bins” around campus for recycling and composting, which also will direct people to the Earth Day activities.

Green pledges at UW Tower: But the HUB lawn isn’t the only UW location where Earth Day themes are being celebrated; employees at UW Tower are getting into the act as well. A group of staffers there calling themselves the Green Team — many from UW Educational Outreach — have created what they call the “40 Acts of Green” project. This voluntary effort asks each participant to pledge to take part in a “personal green strategy” for 40 days. A poster with yellow pads in the tower cafeteria makes signup easy.

“Because every little bit helps, a pledge need not be centered on the workplace,” writes Alison Koop of Educational Outreach. “It may be any sustainable act of choice — composting at home, taking public transportation to work, subscribing to a community supported agriculture service or not printing out e-mail. In case people need ideas, we’ll provide a list of suggested pledges.”

The project will also be used, Koop said, to “crowdsource” innovative green pledges. After the 40-day period, she said, the campaign poster will be redesigned with names and information on green deeds performed. “We’ll interview volunteers about successes, surprises, challenges and solutions and publish for the organization.”

Earth Day will continue to inspire even after the day itself is over. The Student Conservation Association, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the UW Botanic Gardens will team up for a day of fun projects at the Washington Park Arboretum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. Bring a water bottle, sack lunch, snacks and a travel mug for a hot drink and they’ll provide the tools and gloves. Projects will include removing non-native plants, mulching and trail work.

Earth Day at UW Tacoma: UW Tacoma will get into the Earth Day act with events before, on and after the day itself. Project Earth, a student group promoting environmental awareness, will have an information booth about recycling on Monday, April 19, in the Garretson Woodruff Pratt Building.

The group will hold a “Garbology event” — a visual look at recycling — from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 20, between the library and the main stairs. On Earth Day itself, Project Earth will plant seeds and spread mulch in the campus Giving Garden from 1 to 3 p.m. Then the group will join other organizations on Saturday, April 24, for environmental cleanup and adding native plants at First Creek Middle School.

And at UW Bothell: The Associated Students of UW Bothell are inviting all graduating students to plant a flower in the “W” on campus in a special event called Digging With the Dawgs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Earth Day. And because it’s like Earth Day every day on the fictional planet of Pandora in the film Avatar, the Bothell Campus Events Boad will host a viewing of that special effects-packed blockbuster from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Commons.

And finally, UWTV will get into the Earth Day act by broadcasting programs on the environment, climate change and other ecological issues every Friday evening from 8 to 10 p.m. on channel 27.

More to add? Have we missed public Earth Day activities being held by your department or campus unit? Use the comments field below this story to tell the campus what you’re up to.