By: Zeus Enloe
This year, there are over 50 videos and activities for students to choose from to learn the ins and outs of sustainability. Events will kick off on April 19, students have the option to attend a variety of virtual events held by ACC and other organizations in our community. These events include trivia games, recycled crafts, and more. There are also resources for students to learn more about sustainable practices in their personal time. To learn more, ACCENT spoke with several staff members and students involved in ACC’s sustainability initiatives as well as the Earth Week festivities.
At ACC, Earth Week events are organized by the Office of Sustainability. Additionally, each ACC campus is home to its own Green Team. The Green Teams are collaborative student and faculty groups working towards the goal of increasing sustainability on our ACC campuses.
Carol Knight, ACC’s administrative assistant and Green Team coordinator for the Cypress Creek Campus, explains Earth Day as “a way to draw attention to things that directly affect and influence you know ones daily lifestyle and choices.”
This was echoed by Andy Kim, the energy & sustainability director, when asked why ACC students should even care about Earth Day to begin with.
“Everything we do in our daily lives affects our environment, no matter how trivial it is,” Kim says.
Throughout the entire week, students will be given ideas on how to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their daily lives such as creating a DIY home garden, learning how to cook vegetarian dishes, or take on challenges that reduce electricity usage in their homes. Activities are open to students with any level of knowledge about sustainability.
[F]or those that don’t necessarily know much about sustainability, Earth Day/Week is an opportunity to learn about and get involved in sustainability at ACC and at home. It is a time for us all to shout from the rooftops how important it is to live a sustainable lifestyle and how easy it is to do so,” Jasmin Rostamnezhad, ACC’s sustainability coordinator, says.
Student leaders Celeste Mills and Holli Sampson agreed, telling ACCENT that we should work towards sustainability every day, and Earth Week is a way to remind us of this.
Mills advised, “We need help to make companies accountable and make it possible for everyone to live a sustainable life.”
Mills will be hosting an Earth Week book club featuring “Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World” by Tom Burgis as well as “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells.
Sampson organized a trash pickup for students to partake in on April 25. Students can find a space in their local community that needs to be cleaned and will receive a voucher for a free slice of pizza from Toss Pizzeria for their efforts. Students can walk around and pick up trash, even if they’re only going on a 15 minute walk with their dog.
“[It’s] Such an easy way to get things done and it feels good,” Sampson says.
Something new to Earth Week this year are the Energy and Sustainability Office’s meetups. The meetups will be recurring throughout the week and will allow students the opportunity to connect with the sustainability staff and learn more about ACC’s green initiatives.
“Sustainability touches on just about everything and anything we do,” Kim says. “[It’s] Not just one day. We need to think about our limited resources.”
After Earth Week ends, students are still encouraged to continue practicing the tools and resources learned from these events. Knight suggested that students “find one thing” that they care about and find a way to connect it with Earth Day.
“[There is] always something more to learn that I can do that can help minimize the things that are bad for the planet,” she says. “For example, a student that enjoys cooking can look into green cooking and container gardening.
There are also events hosted by organizations outside of ACC. Both Kim and Knight suggested that students look into the nonprofit organization called Keep Austin Beautiful. Rostamnezhad suggested getting involved with a nonprofit called EartShare of Texas and their daily eco-friendly challenges for the month of April.
“ [I] would encourage everyone to participate in the #MyEarthMyTexas Challenge April 1 – 30, 2021. This challenge will show you easy ways to reduce your environmental footprint at home and you get prizes for it!” Rostamnezhad said.
Earth Day celebrations are not only beneficial to our planet and community, but can also lead to great memories. For Kim this was when he was challenged to make wearable items out of reused objects. Something that still sticks with Kim is how one person apparently made a hat out of kitty litter packaging. For Knight, this was the many projects that have been implemented at the Cypress Creek campus, such as the butterfly garden. Students can make their own memories this year, whether they are interested in gardening, sustainable cooking, trash pick-ups, or even informational presentations. Get involved, get educated, and make a difference. Find the full list of Earth Week events here.