Earth Claire promotes student sustainability

The event gave away reusable water bottles, travel mugs and featured campus and community organizations

Taylor Reisdorf

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March 25, 2020

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Campus and community organizations and businesses came together to show how students can make the Earth a better place.

Campus Mall was buzzing with activity this Tuesday as UW-Eau Claire’s first ever Earth Claire event took place.

The much-anticipated sunshine beamed down on the heads of students as they waited to get free reusable water bottles, travel mugs and pizza. Background music played as students weaved through the booths hosted by campus and community organizations that aim to make the earth a healthier place.

Earth Claire was organized by Student Senate’s Student Office of Sustainability, which manages the Green Fund on campus. The event’s primary goal was to show students the importance of sustainability at the personal, campus and community levels, Kristina Haideman, the director of the Student Office of Sustainability (SOS), said.

Earth Claire was inspired by a recent spike in interest in sustainability, Haideman said. Students have shown interest in taking classes that focus on sustainability, and Haideman said she feels students want to know how to personally do things to better the environment, like sorting waste properly.

“I think students have recognized that sustainability has a place on the Eau Claire campus,” Haideman said.

The organizations and businesses represented included the SOS, Student Senate, Students Encouraging Environmental Deeds (SEED), Environmental Adventure Center (EAC), Earth Bound Environmental Solutions, Sustainability LLC, Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the Student National Environmental Health Association.

Whitney Harmon, a second-year Elementary Education student and one of the representatives of Sustainability LLC, said her organization aims to foster sustainability practice in primarily first-year students. A lot of the work they do is on upper campus, she said, so Earth Claire was a good opportunity for the organization to spread the word to the rest of campus about the work they do.

“It’s just great to be outside with the weather and everybody and to feel the energy and to spread positivity through sustainability,” said Caleb Carr, a first-year Geography and Art student who also represented Sustainability LLC.

Eager booth attendees representing SEED handed out naturally-produced detergent, chapstick, and granola bars while the other booths gave out stickers, pins, flyers and candy. The SOS was responsible for the distribution of reusable water bottles, travel mugs, pizza and more

Haideman said the event was all about bringing students together to reach a common goal.

“Earth Claire is kind of a culmination of a lot of things that the Student Office of Sustainability is trying to promote,” Haideman said. “That’s really ‘reuse.’ We’re giving out water bottles and reusable mugs with the hopes that students will use these items and think about reusing on a more personal level.”

There was even an interactive compost demonstration put on by student partners of Earth Bound Environmental Solutions and an interactive waste demonstration done by student researchers.

The student researchers, who are working under Geology professor Scott Clark, are doing a waste audit in Davies Student Center, Nathaniel McFarland, a geology student researcher, said.

Every 30 minutes, during lunchtime, the group collects the landfill, compost and recycling in Davies. They then sort out and count each particular item to see what was put where.

“We’re trying to track how well the school is actually doing,” McFarland said.

The goal is to encourage students to do a better job, he said.

While Haideman said she’s excited about Earth Claire and hopes it has a lasting impact on campus, she said there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in terms of sustainability.