There are two types of people on college campuses. The first frantically runs around campus picking up trash and ranting about the upcoming environmental apocalypse, clad in pants made out of recycled grocery bags. The second drags themselves out of bed at 12:30 p.m. and skips the confusing recycling bins for the ease of a trash can whose contents are destined for a landfill.
“College students are lazy, it’s as simple as that,” Katherine Crawford, a dance freshman and Campus Environmental Center member, said, “If they have a soda can to throw away but the recycling bin is a few steps farther than a normal trash can, they’ll take the easy way out.”
Crawford believes the polar opposite priorities of college students in regards to sustainability prevent progress. She thinks the only time work gets done is when it is forced on students.
Faith Shin, director of the Campus Environmental Center, said sustainable living on campus is absolutely feasible. She said that over the years UT has made environmental progress readily available, especially in dining halls and waste management. More than anything, she believes celebrating Earth Day is the best way to promote environmental awareness.
The University of Texas will have many events to participate in for those students who are interested in environmental progress. Shin and the Campus Environmental Center have been promoting Earth Day all April by kick starting an “Earth Month” campaign.
Shin’s efforts are most focused on an Earth Day Carnival on April 22 which will span the length of Speedway.
“We hope to showcase what different departments and organizations are doing to increase campus sustainability,” Shin said.
To do this, Shin has collaborated with more than 20 campus organizations. She hopes to show that a large portion of the student population is unified in its efforts to save the environment. Each student group involved has prepared various activities to educate students on how to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability.
Shin and the Campus Environmental Center are currently building a bicycle-powered blender. They will have carnival visitors ride the bicycle and power the machine in order to receive the smoothie they want.
“Maybe by putting them through this manual labor of sorts, they will understand how much energy it takes to fuel even small household appliances, like a blender,” Shin said.
Earth Day was created in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. At the time, growing clouds of smog were not seen as an issue — it was a symbol of America’s growing prosperity. Senator Nelson decided that change was needed in our perception of environmental issues and used Earth Day to spur young people to make a new movement to save the planet.
Forty-three years later, Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries and brings together the environmentally conscious in one day of festivities.
“Today we are constantly bombarded with the decline of our environment,” Reed Sternberg, Austin Earth Day festival director, said. “Austin Earth Day is an opportunity to stop and celebrate the good stuff about the Earth.”
Shin believes the various events in Austin for Earth Day have the ability to unite the community and push them toward environmental progress.
“Students aren’t apathetic to sustainability, and I doubt that any one wants to harm the planet,” Shin said, “They just have to make the conscious effort to live ‘green.’”
College students’ active resolve is perhaps in question, but Shin believes UT will take the opportunity to do its part this Earth Day. Perhaps Monday’s festivities will convince lazy college students to take the extra step toward the recycling bin.