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Celebrate Earth Week at Northwestern

Events will be held April 22-28 to engage and educate community

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University will be celebrating Earth Week with programming for the campus and community from April 22 to 28 -- with events focused around five main themes: energy, water, waste, agriculture and transportation. 

Highlights will include the annual Mount Trashmore demonstration, the screening of the award-winning documentary “The Island President,” various information sessions and opportunities to compete for prizes.

The Office of Sustainability in Facilities Management coordinates Earth Week programming, with heavy involvement from student groups and many areas of the University.

“What’s exciting is that student groups drive most of the events, which is the way it should be,” said Rob Whittier, Northwestern’s director of sustainability. “We just try to provide support.”

Earth Week planners hope the variety of themes and events will engage all members of the Northwestern community: students, faculty, staff and Northwestern’s Evanston neighbors.

The Office of Sustainability will launch its new website Monday, on Earth Day. Whittier said the new site will focus on engagement, rather than just providing information. Members of the Northwestern community will be invited to sign the Green Pledge, a commitment to individual sustainability practices not just during Earth Week but year-round.

“A successful Earth Week is one that builds awareness about sustainability through broad engagement of the Northwestern community,” Whittier said.

One of the signature Earth Week events is the annual Mount Trashmore display from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 23 on the lawn outside Lunt Hall. A mountain of garbage will provide a true visual representation of the volume of waste disposed of on the Evanston campus. 

The event is intended to remind the community of the need for recycling and waste reduction. Community members can learn how they can help make the pile smaller and will have a chance to win prizes. 

The size of the pile has decreased over the years due to increases in recycling and reductions in trash generated on campus; Whittier hopes the trend will continue. Within the last year, Northwestern began food waste composting and now collects up to 30 tons of compostables per month, which are sent to a local facility.

Other notable Earth Week events include:

- “Environmental Intersections: Climate Change and Globalization,” 7 to 9 p.m. April 22: Put on by the Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED), this event takes a collaborative look at a pressing environmental issue and how it relates to another social issue. This year’s event will include a screening of the acclaimed documentary “The Island President” followed by lectures by Professor Seth Stein from the department of Earth and planetary sciences and Sarah Lovinger, M.D., and Gordon Davis, both from the Program in Environmental Policy and Culture. 

-Get Caught Green-Handed, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 23: Green Man, Bag Monster and Human Tree will be on campus giving out prizes to people engaging in sustainable behaviors such as riding bikes, using reusable water bottles and more. The event is designed to reward small, conscious choices by individuals and everyday sustainable behaviors.  

- Alternative Transit Fair, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24: iGo, ZipCar, Wildcat Wheels, University Police and University Services will be at the Norris University Center sharing information on alternative transportation options.

- “What is Sustainable Meat?” 6 to 8 p.m. April 25: NU Food Talks will be hosting a potluck at the Technological Institute featuring Niman Ranch's Central Business Director and National Account Manager Kay Cornelius, Roti Mediterranean Grill's Chef Frederik Jensen and Red Meat Market's Founder Mark Wilhelms speaking on the feasibility of “sustainable” meat. 

-Mulching and Tree Planting, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26: Celebrate Arbor Day by helping Northwestern’s trees. Volunteers will be mulching and planting some new trees near Deering Meadow. To participate, sign up here by April 22. 

There also will be ongoing events and challenges all week including the No Impact Challenge, where participants compete to use the fewest number of single-use disposable items throughout the week, and the Plastic World Exhibit in the Dittmar Gallery, featuring art made entirely of recycled materials by Mary Ellen Croteau.

More information can be found on the Earth Week website.

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