Earth Day activity

Members of the Sierra Student Coalition, Lead Hogs and Residents’ Interhall Congress, along with other student volunteers, collect litter on campus Friday to celebrate Earth Day. The campus cleanup was one of several sustainability- and environmentalism-themed events that took place in honor of the national holiday.

Members of campus organizations  and other students celebrated Earth Day on Friday by participating in activities themed around sustainability and environmentalism.

Members of various registered student organizations and other campus groups hosted events and volunteer opportunities designed to raise awareness about ways to protect the environment, combat climate change and connect with nature. These included a seed donation drive, a fast fashion education event and a campus cleanup, among others.

RecycleBacks, which aims to educate students about recycling and environmental sustainability, organized one such Earth Day event. Students in the RSO strive to expand locals’ sustainability knowledge and make Northwest Arkansas a greener place by hosting events and collaborating with other organizations in the community. On Friday, members hosted an online meeting to educate fellow students about fast fashion’s detrimental effects on the environment.

RecycleBacks president Mufazzela Tabassum, a junior, said the event was a success and informed attendees about how fast fashion production and its resulting waste feeds landfills and increases the quantity of microplastics in the earth’s oceans.

“Members were able to reflect and think of things that could be implemented into their daily life to reduce their consumption of fast fashion and lessen its impact on the environment,” Tabassum said.

RecycleBacks members have organized an array of events this semester, including a recycling drive in partnership with the NWA Council. The RSO, which has existed for more than five years, is part of a growing network of conservation- and sustainability-focused student groups on campus. Many of those environmental groups had featured information tables at an Earth Day fair Friday afternoon organized by University Programs.

“University Programs has done a wonderful job bringing together all the sustainability RSOs on campus,” Tabassum said. “We were able to meet so many new people on Earth Day and tell people the goals of our organization. We found that a lot of people were eager to get more involved.”

The UA Sierra Student Coalition, another RSO, is part of a nationwide network of young people committed to the idea that every human has a right to a clean and healthy environment.

The Sierra Student Coalition’s UA chapter members organize two community cleanups every month, one hike and one guest speech each month and one camping trip each semester.. The goal of the RSO is to get students outside, enjoying and appreciating the environment, UA chapter president Emily Tubbs said.

On Earth Day, students involved with the Sierra Student Coalition and other campus groups undertook a campus cleanup in partnership with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which donated supplies. Tubbs thought the event was a huge success, with about 40 students turning up to help clean up campus. The volunteers found litter in several locations, including in a creek behind the John W. Tyson Center of Excellence in Poultry Science building. Such litter affects wildlife and harms the beauty of the UA campus, Tubbs said.

“Students learned how every little piece of trash can accumulate quickly. I hope that people become more aware of how much litter really affects our environment,” Tubbs said.

Creating a different kind of Earth Day service opportunity, staff and volunteers of the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry arranged a seed donation drive in partnership with the UA Office of Sustainability.

People participated by purchasing seeds and other gardening materials from an Amazon wish list and bringing donations to the Office of Sustainability. Volunteers will use the donated items to create take-home gardening kits for pantry clients to use to grow herbs and vegetables this summer. The wish list is still active, and those interested in donating can still participate.

The goal of the drive was to create a stronger connection with the food we eat through awareness of gardening and the distribution of gardening materials,” said Amber Obermaier, the food pantry’s community outreach coordinator.

Students wishing to learn more about sustainability at the UofA and beyond can enroll in a range of related courses, including Foundations of Sustainability (SUST 1103), or read about the university’s goals — including reaching a carbon-neutral status by 2040 — in the most recent UA Climate Action Plan.

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