Go green for one week – every year Maryville College organizes events for Earth Week during the week in which Earth Day, April 22, occurs. – This year, MC is hosting Earth Week for the sixth time. Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of design and coordinator of sustainability studies minor, is co-coordinator of Earth Week at MC. Together, with Dr. Mark O’Gorman, professor of political science and coordinator of environmental studies program, and the Environmental Action Team she organized events for Earth Day previous to the establishment of MC Earth Week in 2011.
“Earth Week is very much a collaborative effort, with many groups and individuals involved,” said Hannah Kirby, current leader of the Environmental Action Team.
Students might wonder what the point of Earth Week is or think that they are incapable of creating change, but Schwarte thinks differently. She wants to remind students, staff and faculty that change starts with small steps and everything starts with an individual decision.
“Individual action makes a difference,” Schwarte said. “My personal goal every year is more awareness, so that we can have a more sustainable impact.”
Students have noted the importance of Earth Week on campus and say it has shown how much the MC community cares about environmental issues.
“My experiences at MC have shown me that most of our students, staff and faculty actually do care about the environment, but they don’t know how to express their interest,” said Kirby. “Earth Week gives people the opportunity to get involved, even on the smallest scale.”.
From April 18-24 MC celebrated Earth Week. They worked together in order to make a difference. A Court Street trash clean-up was organized for students to participate in. The documentary “A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet” was screened, and an organic ice cream social without trash and energy took place at the solar docks in front of Pearsons. On April 20, “Lights Out” lecturing was encouraged. In addition to these events there were tree plantings, tours on campus, a symposium and a sustainability panel.
The “Lights Out” Lecturing event was new. Participating faculty chose to use a limited amount or no power on this day in order to conserve energy.
“I think we will definitely do it again,” Schwarte said. “It’s simple and easy to put together.” She pointed out that even the College’s post office participated.
The Court Street clean-up is an event that has been on the schedule for years. This year, the students collected 49 pounds of trash on and around campus. Kameron Graves, sophomore student at MC, was one of the participants in the clean-up. She encourages widespread participation in events like this.
“I enjoy making a difference on our beautiful campus and it was an easy task that anybody could do,” said Graves. “When more people participate, a much bigger difference can be made.”
There are also already future plans for Earth Week 2017. Schwarte would like to bring guest speakers to campus and cooperate with the Smokey Mountains National Park for topic-related events off campus. Kirby would like to host a tree-naming contest with the Environmental Action Team and have a dedication plaque made.
Many of the events this year were student-driven and suggested by students. Schwarte is excited about the involvement and says she is always open for new ideas and suggestions.
“Students can always email ideas to Prof. O’Gorman or me,” Schwarte said. “We want these events to be something students, faculty and staff can engage in.”