Second annual Earth Claire to keep campus thinking green

The second annual Earth Day event seeks to focus on social and environmental sustainability

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke


Photo by Gabbie Henn

Last year, the Student Office of Sustainability gave away free water bottles at the Earth Claire event. This year, they will have a raffle in an effort to be more sustainable, Lauren Becker, the organizer of the event, said.

As the snow melts, campus looks greener. As a way to keep campus looking — and thinking — green, the Student Office of Sustainability will be hosting the second annual Earth Claire event on Tuesday, April 23.

“This event, specifically, is all about fostering that sustainability culture on our campus,” said Lauren Becker, a second-year environmental geography student and organizer of the Earth Claire event. “The importance of sustainability is there in the word itself: sustained. We want to think long term; we want to think big picture.”

This year, the event will feature about 20 vendors — an increase from the 11 vendors at the first Earth Claire last year — including Just Local Foods and SHIFT, Becker said.

“Lauren Becker has done an incredible job reaching out to partners, both on and off campus to bring in partners who vouch for sustainable practices,” Austin Northagen — a fourth-year English critical studies student, the chair of SOS and the organizer of last year’s event — said in an email.

Last year, SOS gave away reusable coffee mugs and water bottles at the event, which was a practice that created more plastic waste, Becker said.

This year, they will be doing a raffle to make the event more sustainable, Becker said. Folks can sign up the day of the event for certain raffles, which will be set up on the tables.

Some of the items up for raffle include: Patagonia hats, hydroflasks and sustainable or zero-waste swaps, such as shampoo bars, deodorant bars, a french press coffeemaker with a reusable filter, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable lunch stacking and more.

The event will also feature snowcones, vegetarian and vegan foods and will have Earth Claire stickers up for grabs, Becker said.

The event will have an added focus on social sustainability, or making sustainability a community-driven issue, which is something that Becker said involves a lot of campus organizations.

“When we talk about social sustainability, we want to see, long-term, a sustainable structure that we can live in,” Becker said.

Becker said she hopes student think about their own sustainable choices in addition to the organizations they affiliate themselves with.

This is the only Earth Day celebration at UW-Eau Claire, Northagen said.

It will also celebrate Arbor Day with a campus conifer walk led by Daria Hutchinson, a landscape designer and gardener at UW-Eau Claire, at 1 p.m. on April 23, Becker said.  

UW-Eau Claire has a Tree Campus USA certification, which is an award given to campuses who have a campus arboretum and allocate funds for maintaining the arboretum, Becker said.

On March 18, Student Senate passed a bill to continue funding the arboretum, according to an article in The Spectator.

The conifer walk will be an opportunity to educate students on the campus arboretum — something that Becker said not many students know about.

As an event promoting sustainability, Earth Claire will also be a zero-waste event, Becker said.

“I’m proud to report that all of the waste that’s generated by this event on the university and SOS’s side will be compostable,” Becker said. “And we’re going to have compost containers on site so that folks can just drop their waste in there.

All vendors are being told that the point is to be zero-waste, but if there is waste, it should be compostable, Becker said.

Becker said she has already been thinking about next year’s event and how to make the event one that vendors seek out in the future.

“I’m really excited this is a student-led, student-initiated campus festival, and I’m excited to see it continue into the future,” Becker said. “My goal is to just keep improving. … I’m already thinking about next year and what we’re going to see. And I’m excited for this festival to make a name for itself.”

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected].