Penn State Holds First Earth Day Event
On Friday, Penn State celebrated Earth Day with an exhibition in HUB Alumni Hall that featured dozens of local organizations in businesses dedicated to sustainable initiatives, ranging from the folks (and a bird) from Shaver’s Creek to the newly tricked-out Penn State EcoCAR that was parked outside of Panda Express. The event also included speeches from a number of community icons, including President Graham Spanier and Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.
The message of Penn State’s Earth Day festivities was one of unification towards improving the way Penn State impacts the environment, but individuals remained at the core of the movement. As one presenter put it, “a billion acts of green begins with the power of one.”
Penn State student David Adewumi (a cofounder of Innoblue) and Dr. Richard Alley (the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences) also spoke. Even physical plant supervisor Al Matyasovsky was on hand to offer meticulous recycling demonstrations. His demonstrations, which attracted the attention of passerby’s, involved tossing a can, bottle, box, or other recycling product at a volunteer student who then would quickly have to choose which receptacle to throw out the waste. A detailed OPP recycling list is available here.
Goreham and Erik Foley, who is director of Penn State’s Campus Sustainability Office, presented the most significant award of the afternoon, the Penn State Earth Day award, to Steve Maruszewski in honor of his progress with sustainability.
In order to develop a sustainable and environmentally conscious university community there need to be contributions from student organizations like the Eco-Action and increases in general community awareness.
“Sustainability is a potentially unifying theme which cuts through many departments at Penn State,” said Andy Lau, who serves as the associate director of the Penn State Center For Sustainability. Lau, who was one of many speakers over the course of the day, wore a bright yellow shirt and a sun mask over his face. His speech preached the possibilities of fully harnessing the power of the sun’s rays.
In order educate and build an understanding in the Penn State community about sustainability, Penn State will now offer a “sustainable leadership” minor. More information is available at the Penn State Center For Sustainability website.
Penn State has consistently demonstrated its ability to be a leader in sustainability and carbon reduction. President Spanier was on hand to speak about the eco-advancements that the university has already implemented. Spanier spoke about the construction of LEED certified buildings– notably including the Millenium Science Complex– and noted the significant progress that Penn State has already made in going green.
“At Penn State, 59% of our waste is recycled each year,” Spanier noted. Penn State has also managed to cut its power consumption by 7%, which includes newly constructed buildings.
Penn State Earth Day 2011 was about further integrating the full of power of the university into the drive for substantial changes how we as a community live sustainable lives. Penn State Earth Day was about far more than supporting a politically charged agenda, or for that matter any policymaking at all. Instead, Earth Day was about providing a way for Penn State community members to reflect on the changes to the university’s sustainability as well as offering individual ways to better our own health and sustainability.