May 4, 2012
While the forecast called for rain and temperatures in the 40's, the sun ended up shining for the University's annual Earth Fest. Over 40 organizations from the University and the greater Chicagoland area participated in the event this year, attracting over 300 students, staff, and community members. "I couldn't believe it—there were so many people milling around," exclaimed Janey Lee, a first year in the College who helped to plan Earth Week 2012 events. "Earth Fest doubled in size this year," reported Lee, "and it was awesome to see everyone having so much fun!"
In keeping with the Earth Week 2012 theme of Recreate, many booths were interactive, encouraging fun and creativity while shifting the way attendees viewed materials headed for landfill or recycling.
Adding to the festive atmosphere were several food trucks, offering a variety of appetizing eats beginning at 11am. Just before 12:30pm, a flash mob of students materialized, donning Earth Week 2012 Frankenstein t-shirts and dancing to Moves Like Jagger. The University mascot, Phil the Phoenix, also stopped by Earth Fest a little before 1pm and was popular with kids, both young and old.
Over 100 people got their picture taken in the photo booth, making a pledge to be more sustainable by using totes in place of single-use plastic bags, travel mugs instead of to-go cups, and avoiding plastic bottled water. Participants kept a photo strip while the duplicate strips were posted outside of the booth, creating visual imagery of collective action.
Festival attendees also planted their own herbs, including basil, cilantro, parsley, and lettuce, using yogurt containers and compost made from the campus grounds. Leftover laminated triangle pieces were used as plant labels. "The planting table is always a hit," said Melody Harter, SAGE Ambassador and Assistant in the Department of Philosophy. "Everyone was pleasantly surprised to learn that our leaves from campus get reused right back here on campus!"
Across the quad, a line of bikes snaked down the sidewalk while cyclists patiently waited for free bike tune-ups courtesy of the recycles bike mechanic, Maalik Gardner, as well as Aaron Swanton, Chris Willard, Damon Wang, Amy Woodruff, Tyjuan Edwards, and D'angelo Jackson from Blackstone Bicycle Works. While waiting, you could hop on the energy bike brought by Argonne's Sustainability Program Manager, Devin Hodge. "We had a great time," Hodge reported. "It was a fun way for us to connect with the community and promote the Laboratory and our sustainability program with some future leaders and stakeholders."
There was also a chance to give back. Nearly 80 people participated in the clothing swap and over six bags of clothing were donated to Encore, a local resale shop. Emilie Chen, student lead for the clothing swap, expressed excitement about the success of the swap. "We were surprised by the number of people who participated," she said. "It demonstrated that the interest is there and I hope that similar events are held on campus more regularly in the future."
Earth Fest was the culmination of an entire week of events, including a film screening of the award-winning documentary, Bag It, The Plant tour, and a hands-on Recreate Workshop, all of which were well attended. "The Recreate theme naturally lent itself to creative and informative Earth Week events," stated Katie Anson, Sustainability Program Coordinator. "While we touched on a wide array of serious issues, this year's Earth Week events emphasized how being more sustainable can be fun and empowering."