Sustainability

EarthFest brings environmental clubs together

ECOLOGIC HOSTS EarthFest during GM Week 2011, featuring pot painting, smoothie making, and other environmentally-friendly activities.

On Friday, April 12, from 12–4 pm, EcoLogic will be hosting EarthFest. EarthFest is an annual event that involves many different environmental clubs and organizations. In the past, it has included organizations from around the capital region. This year, though, EarthFest will feature tables from Engineering for a Sustainable World, Engineers Without Borders, Student Sustainability Task Force, Vasudha, Rensselaer Electric Vehicle, Terra Café, and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Honor Society. Each club will provide information as well as have a display that may include free food or pet rocks.

EcoLogic itself will have its traditional four tables, each with a project that attendees can do for free: recycled notebooks, vegan smoothies (granted, smoothies are often vegan—these have almond milk or orange juice as the liquid rather than anything else), paint-a-pot pot-a-plant, and tie-dying.

When was the first EarthFest? It’s not quite clear, but it is known that EcoLogic is RPI’s oldest environmental club—founded in 1980 as a chapter of Student Pugwash USA. Student Pugwash is a nation-wide organization dedicated to promoting social responsibility in science and technology. For unknown reasons, EcoLogic changed its name in the mid 1990’s and became a separate organization, independent of any national one. Many sustainability-related projects and events, such as the EcoHall Challenge (now known as Hey Red Go Green!) were EcoLogic projects in the beginning until other organizations took over them. Other clubs have branched off of EcoLogic—these include some of the clubs that will be at EarthFest. The Student Sustainability Task Force, for example, was created in 2007 with some very specific goals, like making RPI more sustainable. EcoLogic is more about sustainability in people’s personal lives, including finding an environmental career; seeing environmentalism as fun is also promoted. Other clubs (Engineers Without Borders and Engineers for a Sustainable World) are part of national organizations. Many people who are members of one sustainability-related club are members of at least one other.

EarthFest is always held in April, often around Earth Day (April 22). In some years, sustainability clubs at RPI have held more events during Earth Week. This year, though, the Science and Technology Studies and Arts Departments are preparing Earth Week festivities that will involve speakers, research relating to sustainability, and more, with some sustainability club involvement.

Unlike in years past, when EarthFest was held at the Rensselaer Union or in front of Russell Sage Dining Hall, this year (weather permitting), EarthFest will be held in the GM Week Location, over by the Voorhees Computing Center. This location will be very convenient for stopping by to make a smoothie or to quickly tie-dye a t-shirt in between classes. You are welcome to leave your t-shirt or painted pot with us to dry as long as you can pick it up by 4 pm, so don’t worry about having to carry random stuff with you to class. Please come join us in celebrating sustainability. Whether you consider yourself a hard-core environmentalist or not, why would you turn away free stuff?

Editor’s Note: “Sustainability” is a column granted to the Student Sustainability Task Force by the Editorial Board to discuss issues of sustainability on the Rensselaer campus and around the nation.