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‘Mount Trashmore’ and March for Science primer headline Earth Day activities

SustainNU continues Earth Month 2017 celebration this week with topical events

"Mount Trashmore" in front of Lunt Hall in 2016.
"Mount Trashmore" in front of Lunt Hall in 2016.

Northwestern University’s Office of Sustainability (sustainNU) continues its celebration of Earth Day initiatives this week with a pair of signature events, including the annual construction of a mountain of waste and a forum to prepare the University community for Saturday’s March for Science Chicago.

SustainNU has expanded upon the idea of Earth Day -- which this year is Saturday, April 22 -- by celebrating it all month (Earth Month 2017) with a variety of initiatives and activities. A full list of past, current and upcoming activities is available online.

Volunteers will build “Mount Trashmore,” a pile of trash, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday in front of Lunt Hall, 2033 Sheridan Road in Evanston, for the 10th consecutive year. Conceived by a student involved in Engineers for a Sustainable World in 2008, Northwestern’s version of Mount Trashmore brings the concept of campus waste to life.

“It’s difficult for the campus community to understand waste based on statistics like tons generated,” said Julie Cahillane, manager of sustainability and resource management for sustainNU. “The goal of the ‘mountain’ is to motivate people to waste less, reuse more and recycle all they can. It’s not out of sight, out of mind but right there for all to see in its trashy glory.”

Cahillane, other sustainNU staff members and volunteers will engage passersby to explain ways they can reduce their waste and give away items that help achieve that goal, such as reusable water bottles and shopping bags. Those interested in volunteering may sign up online.

On Friday, members of the Northwestern community can prepare for Saturday’s March for Science Chicago at the “Pre-March for Science Forum & Sign Making,” from 3 to 5 p.m. at Fisk Hall 311. Students and faculty will talk about the importance of science over coffee and donuts, and participants can make a sign to take with them for the march the next day, when people around the country will take to the streets in support of science.

President Morton Schapiro reaffirmed the University’s commitment to science this week and last week in two “Conversations with President Schapiro” events in Chicago and Evanston. He noted that the University, which receives the lion’s share of its research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is working to prevent proposed budget cuts to federal funding of scientific research. He added that the University is in a good position financially to carry on with its research goals regardless of potential cuts.

“I think that we have the resources to carry us through,” Schapiro said. “Even when NIH wasn’t increasing funding, we were still increasing our research budget because we’ve been hiring and retaining brilliant scholars in STEM fields.”

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