Earth Week to bring sustainability discussions, films to Northwestern

Sohyun Choo, Reporter

Northwestern sustainability groups will host several Earth Week programs next week in an effort to raise awareness about environmental issues on campus.

The weeklong event, beginning Sunday, will focus on seven major themes: water, energy, waste, transportation, food, community and climate change. Events held during the week will include discussions, volunteering opportunities and film screenings.

Allison Potteiger, the University’s sustainability communications coordinator, said she wants this year’s Earth Week to be as successful in engaging students as last year’s.

“The Office of Sustainability normally meets with a lot of student groups, but it was really great last year to meet a lot of new students we hadn’t met and get them engaged,” she said.

The week will feature annual events including the Mount Trashmore Installation, which gives a visual representation of how much waste NU generates, and the No Impact Challenge, where participants compete to use the fewest number of single-use disposable items. The Office of Sustainability also hopes to increase student participation this year by offering a variety of new programming.

Among these new events is Bike2Campus Week, where participants can log bike rides throughout the week to win prizes. NU will compete with nine other schools in the Chicago area to promote biking as a sustainable means of transportation.

The campus-wide shoe collection, which will take place from April 21-25, is another new event involving a partnership between the Associated Student Government’s Sustainability Committee and the athletic department. Students are encouraged to drop off any unwanted shoes at three collection stations: the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center, the ground floor of Norris University Center and the Ryan Field weight room. The shoes will be picked up and sold to a local thrift shop and all proceeds will benefit the Purple Heart Service Foundation.

Weinberg senior Wesley Lien, ASG sustainability vice president, said the event will function as an alternative recycling program aiming to decrease gas emissions from shoe production.

“It’s a way to raise funds for charity and also do something good for the environment,” Lien said.

Engineers for a Sustainable World, in collaboration with nine other student groups, will host its first ever Earth Week event on Thursday, “Let’s Talk About Water.” The group will screen the award-winning documentary “Last Call at the Oasis,” which will be followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with three experts on nonprofit work and human rights issues.

ESW president Rachel Scholes said she hopes the event will begin a dialogue in the NU community about global water issues, including contamination and water shortage.

“The idea is to talk about water not just from an engineering perspective, but also from a human rights perspective,” the McCormick senior said.

Despite the event being new to Earth Week, Scholes said she hopes it will encourage students to think about sustainability and environmentalism even after the week is over.

“We want to sustain the dialogue and keep students engaged beyond a one-time event,” she said.

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