By Morgan Caplan
On April 22, students at the University of Maryland demonstrated support for environmental protection on worldwide Earth Day.
This environmental movement started at a time where leaded gas was all the rage, and people accepted air pollution as the smell of the modern age. Today, the trend remains consistent and ever more urgent for the fight for a clean environment is pressing. With the debate over climate change, Earth Day is just a reminder to respect the Earth that we live on and protect it.
The university and the surrounding Washington D.C. area found ways for students to participate in the festivities and promote a safer and cleaner environment. The U.S. Botanical Gardens this year is hosting an Earth Day event with engaging activities and opportunities to talk to representatives of environmental organizations. In past years the SGA Sustainability Committee hosted a festival celebrating the Earth with activities including mural painting and live music.
The National Zoo and Union Station are celebrated Earth Day for those students and residents who want to enjoy fun, interactive exhibits and activities. The National Zoo commemorated Earth Day with “green-themed” activities such as gardening tips from horticulturists as well as a tour of the Zoo’s green facilities. At Union Station, eco-friendly exhibits raised awareness and encouraged sustainability.
“People take nature for granted and think that it’ll always be around, but that’s not true anymore,” sophomore business major and sustainability minor Gabby Antonelli said. “The Earth isn’t a person that can say ‘hey appreciate me today,’ so people tend to forget.”
After the Princeton Review named the University of Maryland a Top 20 Green School in 2015, the university and its organizations are helping to educate others on the importance of keeping the environment clean on Earth Day and every other day. Project Earth, a student organization that educates the campus community on their impact on the environment, has its own initiatives that began in early April leading up to Earth Day.
Starting April 2, Project Earth launched the impact challenge. For six weeks, the organization sent participants a new action each week intended to reduce the negative impact students have on the environment, senior finance major and president of Project Earth, Ikjot Walha said. The participants who completed all six weeks won a prize. Along with the campaign, the organization also sent out a newsletter on more sustainable practices.
Errin Saunders, senior environmental science major, continues to find things she can do around the school that are simple steps to eliminate her carbon footprint.
“This day reminds everyone about the importance of our natural resources. It refocuses everyone’s scattered attention and stresses back to the little things that matter the most, like having sun and water and health,” Saunders said.