This week, Tech will celebrate Think Green Week, a five-day schedule of Earth-friendly activities designed to promote environmental awareness on campus. The weeklong festivities will conclude on Friday, April 18 with the 11th annual Earth Day celebration taking place on Skiles walkway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s theme is “Take Action: Code Green.” The festivities, with a few exceptions, are open to the public.
On a similar note, the first ever Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 as a coast-to-coast protest to bring national attention to environmental issues. Tech’s Earth Day celebration has been a tradition on campus for more than a decade now, thanks to the vision and dedication of Earth Day Committee Chairperson, Cindy Jackson.
“We really want people to do something… We pick a theme every year – from ‘What’s Your Global Footprint?’ to ‘Make a Commitment’ last year for our 10th anniversary. This year we said, ‘now you’ve got to take action,’” Jackson said.
Key events for Earth Day 2008 include the Earth Day Maze, Office Supply Exchange, Electronic E-Waste Recycling and Cell Phone and Toner Recycling. Several bands and recording artists are scheduled to perform at the outdoor festival, including Dr. Dr. Mr. MD, in which two Tech professors play.
Students and staff also had the opportunity to make contributions to the festivities well before the actual event. Robert Poppell II, a Computational Media major, was the winner of this year’s t-shirt design contest. The 2008 Environmental Leadership award goes to Tommy Little, Facilities Building Services Manager. Little is also the 2006 recipient of the APPA award for Effective and Innovative Best Practices.
The weeklong counterpart of Earth day, Think Green Week, spearheaded the Earth Day Planning Committee. Various organizations including Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS), the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and the College of Management will host events throughout the week.
Most notably, Think Green Week presentations include a sustainability lecture by Dr. Peter Webster, free screening of the films Kilowatt Ours and The Real Dirt on Farmer John and a book signing by David Bornstein. Two of the most talked-about Think Green Week events this year, the Sustainable Fashion Show and Clothing Swap, will take place Thursday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Skiles Walkway.
The fashion show is presented by SOS and will feature clothing crafted from recycled materials and organic cotton.
“The Sustainable Fashion Show and Clothing Swap are meant to raise awareness about more environmentally friendly ways to shop for clothes and accessories,” said Carly Queen, SOS founder and current president.
According to Queen, the clothing industry takes a significant toll on the environment through its excessive use of pesticides and water for cotton production, energy for transportation and toxic dyes and chemicals used in manufacturing processes. Queen believes that unfair labor and business practices are also extremely prevalent in clothing production.
“Shopping in thrift stores and buying clothes made from recycled, organic, or otherwise sustainable materials (like hemp and bamboo) can help reduce an individual’s impact on the planet,” Queen said.
The Earth Day Planning Committee will provide additional ways to recycle clothing. Friday’s festival will include the “Nike Reuse-A-Shoe” booth where participants can retire their old athletic shoes (of any brand). The committee urges students, faculty, and staff to “get their shoes back in the game” by donating them to Nike’s sustainability program. Donated shoes will be ground up and used to make a brand new athletic surface like a soccer field, basketball court or running track.
Jackson hopes that Earth Day will foster a long-term impact on environmental sustainability once participants implement the things that they have learned and start making changes in their everyday lives.
Jackson, who has been the Earth Day chairperson since it began at Tech, is also the Solid Waste Manager for the Office of Solid Waste Management and Recycling Services, which has been recognized on a national level for its exceptional recycling program. Earlier this month, the Office of Solid Waste Management and Recycling Services was the recipient of the American Forest and Paper Association’s College & University Recycling Award. In 2007 alone, the Office recovered close to 400 tons of paper products to be recycled.
The Institute for Sustainable Technology, Ford Motor Company, the Coca-Cola Company, the College of Engineering, Pratt Industries Recycling Division and the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics are just some of the sponsors for Earth Day 2008.
To learn more about Earth Day, visit: www.earthday.gatech.edu. For more information on Students Organizing for Sustainability and Think Green Week events, visit: www.sos.gatech.edu/node/17.