SMC celebrates Earth Week's 40th Anniversary

It is a rare occurrence when the Eco-Action Club, Club Grow and the Center for Environmental and Urban Studies hope for no rain, but as it began to drizzle the afternoon before Earth Day, Genevieve Bertone, director of sustainability at the CEUS cried out, "Oh Mother Nature!" with her fists clenched towards the sky.

"I literally had nightmares that it was going to rain, because it had rained the day before," said president of the Eco-Action Club, Stephanie Calderon. "I seriously did a rain dance."

Bertone's bellow and Calderon's jig fortunately paid off. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, the sun peeked through the clouds and the Eco-Action Club, in collaboration with AS, celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Roughly 450 students were in attendance.

"Any student is going to walk toward free food, but I think once they inquired more about what the event was and what activities we had going on, we had a lot of people participate," said Calderon.

In 1962 Senator Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, began developing a plan to make environmental awareness more prevalent in the political sector. He felt that the government was not adequately embracing environmentalism and so, after seven years of planning and a national conservation tour with President Kennedy, Earth Day was established in 1970.

SMC's has also striven to raise awareness about environmentalism and has dedicated itself to an agenda of environmentally conscious practices.

The AS has pushed to remove water bottles from all school-related events, the Board of Trustees adopted a Zero Waste event policy, and vermiculture composting has been implemented on campus as a means of redirecting waste that would typically go into a landfill.

Eco-Action Club reduced their budget proposal by 50 percent after the AS requested a decrease. The club made event t-shirts at home and cut out costly attractions like a rock wall. Once funding from AS was approved at roughly $4,500 the groups moved forward with their plans, but not before the AS surprised them with 400 reusable water canteens sporting the new AS logo and the new "Clean and Green" SMC logo. Calderon credits the AS members of Eco-Action, Club Grow, and CEUS as being instrumental in helping coordinate the zero waste, eco-friendly event. Their cooperation brought together almost a dozen non-profit organizations and ensured that all advertisements were printed on post-consumer recycled paper products with soy ink.

A scavenger hunt encouraged participants to visit a number of the ten non-profits represented, such as Heal the Bay, green businesses like EcoUsable water bottle manufacturers and the multiple campus clubs present. After completing the hunt, participants were awarded with their canteen and a chance to enter the raffle for a bike and other prizes.

Using a canteen instead of a water bottle may seem like an insignificant step, but imagine this: floating miles off of California's shore is an entanglement of fishing nets, plastic bottles, and plastic shopping bags. Most commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is twice the size of Texas and burgeoning. Regardless of the efforts that people make to recycle water bottles, the waste is finding it's way out to sea.

SMC has done its part to curb the amount of reusable materials ending up in landfills by encouraging students to recycle and make use of materials like canteens. By doing their part to eliminate waste and by hosting events that put the sustainability of our planet first, SMC has ensured that the 2010 Earth Day event continues to flourish.

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