The anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 is celebrated on April 22, what many of us know as Earth Day. There are many opportunities at Messiah to get involved with sustainability and participate in activities and tasks that are beneficial to the health of our environment. After speaking with those directly involved with sustainability and the Earthkeepers Club at Messiah, I found there are at least 10 things that you can do to make a difference on Earth Day.
1. Commit to the ‘No Plastic Straw’ or ‘No Plastic Bottle’ pledge.
Jeremiah McCoy, a member of the Earthkeepers Club, recommends joining this initiative. This simple pledge is something that is easy to do and helps fight plastic pollution.
2. Lisburn Road cleanup.
In years past, the Earthkeepers Club has participated in the Lisburn Road cleanup. Student Coordinator of Sustainability, Lyndsay Feather, suggests this cleanup as a cool project that all students can be involved in. Cleaning up roadside trash is a great way to promote a healthier Earth.
3. Join Zipcar.
Brandon Hoover, Director of Sustainability, suggests becoming a member of Zipcar. Hoover says, “It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint by sharing resources.” He mentions the strengths of the company which includes reducing parking and joining a community of peers to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of sharing a car.
4. Get involved with the Green Revolving Fund.
Feather describes this fund as “a pot of money set aside to do sustainability projects, like construction projects that students aren’t aware of.” Since implementing the projects themselves saves money, that extra money is then used to do more projects. It’s ultimately viewed as a return of investment, which is where the term “revolving” derives from.
5. Take an active role in government.
McCoy suggests building a healthier Earth through the government. “Acknowledging that the future of our Earth is largely in the hands of elected officials is critical. I know, getting involved in the government sounds daunting and useless, but I promise your voice does matter,” McCoy says. He recommends resources such as pecpa.org or pennfuture.org, which help track bills circulating in the PA government. McCoy also suggests sending e-mails to your local representatives to urge them for their support on environmental policies.
6. Empty your compost bucket.
Consider emptying your compost bucket on Earth Day. If you don’t have one, you can look into starting one. This is an easy way to create a safer environment and is typically preferred over putting food and waste into a landfill.
7. Order to-go only if necessary.
Most students order their food to-go when eating at the Union or Falcon. Hoover suggests refraining from selecting to-go if you are actually going to sit down and eat. A lot of the items in a to-go container are compostable. However, the box still uses resources. “Reduce, reuse and recycle. We should reduce and reuse before recycling,” Hoover says. If all students collaborated to reduce the amount of containers used, it would be better than recycling the boxes when finished.
8. Conserve energy and water.
Some of the easiest things students can start doing on Earth Day is taking shorter showers, turning off lights and unplugging objects when not in use. Both McCoy and Feather suggest this for students. Feather says, “It doesn’t change your daily life, but it makes a difference, helps someone develop habits. Then it becomes natural to us and makes it easy to go out and do advocacy.”
9. Garden Service Day.
Garden Service Day falls on Earth Day this year. Anyone can volunteer to be involved with the garden in different ways including raising beds, adding compost, installing a fence and promoting environmental stewardship. The organic community garden is student led and can always use assistance to make improvements to Messiah’s garden.
10. Stay educated.
“Education is central to any campaign for change, so consider doing research and actively seeking tangible knowledge on the workings of being sustainable,” McCoy says. There are ways to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, go chemical-free and much more. Starting on Earth Day, students are encouraged to reflect on changing simple things that can make a huge impact.
If everyone did little things each day to help our environment, the world would become much more eco-friendly.
McCoy says, “Just remember, it is the small things that make the biggest difference.”
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