Eco-Fair celebrates Earth Day with sustainability advocates – The Cavalier Daily

From 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM Friday, the Office of Sustainability Environmental Exhibition graces the blooming South Lawn with booths and activities promoting sustainable living habits and practices. The exhibition features the theme “How to Save the Planet” and welcomes University organizations and CIOs, local businesses in the Charlottesville community, and city representatives to help emphasize this message.

During the month of April, there were nearly 50 events at the University promoting sustainable living and greener practices — all of which were left to Earth Office of Sustainability April events calendar. According to Dana Schroeder, outreach and engagement specialist at the Office for Sustainability, only a few of these events are hosted directly by the Office for Sustainability itself.

Schroeder said he thought this community engagement was a testament to the development drive for planetary action in the University community.

“We’re so lucky that every year, momentum builds,” said Schroeder. “We used to coordinate ‘Earth Week’ but now we put together events that happened for most of April — now calling it our ‘Earth Day Every Day’ celebration. We are now encouraging every school, department and CIO to host an annual event throughout the year with the planet in mind. It’s a great theme to rally around and can relate to the missions of so many different groups.”

“How to Save a Planet” is the emerging theme for the Eco-Fair of the Office of Sustainability conceptual planning that began earlier this spring. Theme by title a popular podcasts whose goal is to get people excited to fight climate change — an action-oriented message that the Office of Sustainability believes is vital to share with surrounding communities.

“The idea of ​​this event is to help U.Va. students, faculty, staff and visitors find their niche in the climate and sustainability movement,” said Schroeder. “Every interactive table on Lawn will focus on important but often overlooked actions that can help save the planet. We want to help participants go beyond recycling and turning off the lights, uncovering actions that truly make a difference.”

To represent this theme, Sustainability Office four student employee teams — including outreach, waste minimization, green living, and service learning teams — each hosting their own booth at the Eco Fair. The four table themes include a focus on sustainable careers, sustainable travel opportunities abroad, finding sustainable opportunities in your main program and how to serve Earth on Earth.

The inclusive theme set emphasizes the idea that sustainable practices and choices can be applied to almost every aspect of everyday life — even as a University student. Third-year student Megan Young is one of the outreach employees at the Office of Sustainability and notes the opportunities offered at one of the student-led desks — the sustainable careers desk — as well as her own enthusiasm for the booth theme itself.

“[We] have testimonies from various former U.Va. students currently working in … sustainability-related roles, as well as some other engagement material with career opportunities and resources at U.Va. as well as a Buzzfeed type quiz to find out what could be a sustainability-related career for you based on [of] your interest,” said Young. “I’m so excited to be able to have conversations with students who didn’t realize their major could lead them into careers related to sustainability.”

When the Eco-Fair begins at noon, students begin by picking up two tickets from the entrance to the exhibit which they can exchange for treats — including popsicles from La Flor Michoacana — or sweepstakes to win sustainable products from various companies. The main table at the event surrounded the South Lawn with student-run booths on one side and local organizations on the other — these booths partnered with employees from the Office of Sustainability. On the edge of the South Lawn stands the diverse performances of University Facilities Management Fleet electric, hybrid and electric vehicles presented by Michael Duffy, transportation fleet and operations manager.

In addition to this vehicle display, there are a myriad of desks from University courses — including U.Va. Recycle and Reuse shop — and local businesses and operations such as Dogwood Refill, Black Bear Compostingthat Community Climate Collaboration and JUMP where students are able to interact with representatives. A wide range of opportunities and positive-minded representatives create a fun atmosphere for students to learn more about climate-based and sustainable action.

One table in particular — the Cville Solar Project — has a booth that makes pancakes on a solar-powered griddle, making the heads of the students present turn as they walk past. Fourth-year Engineering student Adam O’Neill stressed that the Cville Solar Project is not just about generating solar power, but making renewable energy accessible to society as a whole. He further explained that one of the main goals of the CIO is to show the community firsthand how alternative energy can work.

“We actually didn’t have anyone – like any professional – to help us put this together,” O’Neill said. “We just learned how to do it ourselves [and] succeed. And you can put solar power anywhere — you can put it in your yard, you can power your household appliances and it’s totally unobtrusive. Once you see it in action I think it has an impact.”

Similar to O’Neill’s emphasis on adopting sustainable practices to prove his worth, Young reiterates how climate change and environmental issues can be daunting for students and anyone else who focuses on the full picture of the extraordinary. When one is able to take a step back and focus on smaller, independent changes, says Young, sustainable practices make much more sense to strive for in one’s daily lifestyle.

“I think there’s a lot of news about climate change and about global warming, and I think it can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes a bit nihilistic to think about. [about], said Young. “But there’s a lot that can be done on an individual level. And obviously, isn’t it [an] individual responsibility to improve the planet alone. But I think there’s a lot we can do that only involves making small changes in your life, and one of our mottos at the office is ‘progress above perfection.’”

For Emily Cheng University sophomores, the Eco-Fair is an informative experience to learn about opportunities and organizations both at the University and in society. Although she has not been directly involved in any sustainability organization, she is dedicated to improving the environment and looking for new ways to continue to develop towards this goal.

“I don’t have time to research what kind of sustainability club we have [previously], said Cheng. “But now that I have a better understanding of what my options are, I will definitely consider getting involved… We all only have one Earth and I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to try to take good care of it because there is a very important future for all of us. . us and the people who came after us and I think preserving it is one of the most important things we can do.”

As a student at the University who recognizes the transition to living alone and finding a new individuality, sophomore Julianne Feuchter emphasizes the importance of using this newfound time as an opportunity to build a sustainable practice.

“For many of us this is the first time we are alone, and … making this intentional change,” Feuchter said. “If we can really communicate the importance of sustainability to students, right now, when they are looking for a way to live on their own, when they are thinking about how to make food for themselves, what products to buy … that is very important because it will affect their lives. forward.”

Schroeder reflects this sentiment and emphasizes that as with any habit, sustainable choices will stick with students better if they choose to start practicing them now. The Eco-Fair provides many examples and interactive opportunities to learn how to start working towards these habits that she hopes will persist in the long term.

“Working on sustainability at university is amazing, because students have their entire lives and careers ahead of them,” says Schroeder. “Any habit you develop now or a skill you build at U.Va. can stick with you for the rest of your life… Just like investing, if you start when you are young, it really adds up throughout life.”

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