To celebrate Earth Day, sustainability leaders on campus planned Earth Week with 10 different eco-focused events on topics such as green careers, how to make an office space more sustainable, a mixer to broadcast the future campus Community Garden and solar energy. The events lasted from April 17-19.
More than 30 student-run organizations, along with faculty and professionals, developed Earth Week to help all of Cal Poly become aware of campus sustainability efforts and how students can take part. Some student-run groups that participated included the Real Food Collaborative, Surfrider’s Cal Poly chapter, Green Campus and the Honors Program.
“It’s really important that students know that Cal Poly is trying to become a leader in climate action and going climate neutral,” Sustainability Coordinator Kylee Singh said.
Students like environmental management and protection freshman Marissa Miller are raising awareness of sustainable practices through their clubs. As vice president of Surfrider, Miller turned students’ attention to the ocean by hosting the Save the Waves Film Festival as one of the week’s activities.
“Sometimes people think about protecting the ecosystem on land, but they don’t necessarily think about the ocean,” Miller said. “It’s an issue that’s really not at the front of their minds. I think film is a really cool way to inspire people and make them aware of things that they might not otherwise think about.”
Students from the Honors Program also served as sustainability leaders as they promoted the development of the Community Garden, which is in early development with a confirmed location in Poly Canyon Village.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to grow their own food and know exactly where their food is coming from. It makes them more aware of locally sourced food, seasons, how to eat [healthily] and cook what they’re growing, and all this stuff that can really add to their overall wellbeing,” nutrition freshman Carolyn Reddington said.
The Sustainability Festival overflowed Dexter Lawn Thursday morning with more than 30 booths. Bliss Cafe and other booths distributed free food and groceries. Students could make their own own face masks and learn more about 30 different sustainability-focused clubs, organizations and internship opportunities on campus.
“I want Cal Poly to be carbon neutral and understand how they can be involved to make that happen — sustainable transportation, reducing waste and supporting zero waste efforts and more,” Singh said.
Each event was set up with zero waste stations as Zero Waste Ambassadors along with student volunteers continued their path to meeting the state sustainability mandate. Ambassadors addressed this same goal, diverting 90 percent of waste from being sent to the landfill at Open House April 14.
“[Open House was] an amazing opportunity to really get face time with incoming students about what zero waste really is,” Sustainability Volunteer Coordinator Colleen Trostle said. “We are supposed to meet the state mandate to be diverting 80 percent of waste by 2020, so we really need to get that interaction with incoming freshmen so that when they come in, they are aware of this and practice these habits in their life.”
Recreation, parks and tourism junior Theo Staats, a member of student environmental advocacy group Eco Reps, represented Cal Poly’s Zero Waste Ambassador Program during the event, focusing on educating students on zero waste and changes Eco Reps and other organizations plan to advocate in the next year.
“We are here to represent Cal Poly in a good way and to display that in 2018 we are addressing these important issues,” Staats said.
Staats plans to use his passion for zero waste and the planet to bring zero waste to Farmers’ Market.