ETHS senior organizes Earth Day celebration in Evanston

Jia You

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For Evanston Township High School senior Jack Hanson, environmental sustainability is a personal effort.

“You should be thinking about it when you buy something at the store or when you throw something in the garbage,” he said. “Maybe once you start thinking about that, you’ll find yourself changing some of those decisions.”

Hanson, who volunteers at the Evanston Ecology Center, helped plan the city’s annual Earth Day celebration as part of his senior studies project on green living.

“I thought this independent project will allow me to first of all just figure out what I can do,” Hanson said. “The goal really is by doing that to show others … that you too can do these simple changes.”

Hanson set up six booths to present his findings on how individuals can reduce their carbon footprints during Saturday’s celebration at the ecology center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.

The focus is on “simple solutions,” said Claire Alden, the center’s environmental educator, who worked closely with Hanson on his project.

“A lot of times people feel really bogged down by phrases like ‘climate change’ and ‘carbon footprint,'” Alden said. “And really very simple habits can go a long way.”

To plan the event, Hanson worked about two hours every day at the ecology center during the week before Earth Day. He arrived Saturday at 9 a.m. to create posters, then answered questions and entertained visitors throughout the day by playing jazz piano with his band, Handsome Salamander.

“The hardest part is definitely just the beginning,” he said of planning the event. “Once we set up our things … as we envisioned in our mind, to see it happening is a really cool experience.”

Alden said working with Hanson was a pleasant experience.

“He has a lot of passion and enthusiasm towards finding positive solutions,” she said. “He put effort into it so that it could be successful for other people.”

Besides working at the ecology center, Hanson said he strives to live “green” in his daily life. He changed the light bulbs in his home, set up a worm bin and installed rain barrels that are now “filled to the brim,” he said.

“(It’s) lots of unplugging things, lots of getting rid of things,” he said.

Hanson said he plans to major in environmental studies in college and find a career in environmental conservation.

“I’m never going to lose the daily habits of just biking everywhere and walking everywhere,” he said.

He will present his senior studies project at ETHS on May 3.