April 25, 2005

Students Observe Earth Day on Ho

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Numerous student organizations gathered on Ho Plaza Friday to celebrate Earth Day’s 35th anniversary and show Cornellians what they can do to be more Earth-conscious.

The Ecology House Recycling Committee showed students the importance of proper recycling through a trash demonstration. Members of the committee collected full trash bags from the Straight, and then sorted the bags to demonstrate how much of the “trash” was actually recyclable materials. Signs surrounding the demonstration boasted a staggering statistic that 40 percent of trash is paper that could potentially be recycled.

“Basically the whole point of this demonstration is to show people they need to recycle.” said member Christy Tao ’06.

Throughout the school year the Ecology House Recycling Committee takes part in activities such as visits to recycling plants and sewage plants to see how they work, the production of plays to teach students the necessity of recycling and the management of a compost located in back of the Eco House.

“The best thing to do is reduce consumption in the first place.” said member Kaitlin Rienzo- Stack ’08 said of the message their group hopes to convey to the campus.

Members of Kyoto Now! also took part in the Earth Day festivities by presenting information about their organization, as well as gathering signatures for a petition to replace 5 percent of Cornell’s coal based energy with renewable energy sources, such as wind energy. Kyoto Now!’s goal was to collect 1,500 student signatures in favor of a five dollar addition each semester to the student activity fee which would cover the cost difference between this proposed switch from coal energy to renewable energy. At the time of the Earth Day celebration the group felt confident they attained their goal of 1,500 signatures which they will present along with their proposal to the Student Assembly in the fall.

“By garnering over 1,500 signatures, students have shown broad support for reusable energy.” said member Andrew Schatz ’05 of the student response to this petition.

Also presenting information at the fair were members of the Cornell Solar Decathlon, an organization which is taking part in the 2005 Solar Decathlon Competition, a three-year long competition to build an 8,000 square foot solar home. This engineering team encompasses all seven colleges and has about 50 to 60 students participating in the competition. This is the first time Cornell is taking part in the national competition where they will come up against 19 other schools and be judged in 10 different categories. The design of the house not only depends on solar power to deem it environmentally friendly, but also makes use of energy efficient appliances and a gray-water system in which water from the shower and dishwasher is reused in toilets and outdoor watering systems.

“The major goal is publicity,” said member Jeff Gunther ’08, on what the group as well as solar energy itself would gain from this competition. The group will be traveling along with the house to Washington D.C. this October to partake in the competition.

Passerby’s were encouraged to get involved in the Earth Day spirit through a trivia game which awarded light bulbs to winners, put together by the Engineers for a Sustainable World. This group is involved in many environmentally-minded projects including the design of solar ovens,vegetable oil-powered vehicles, and robotic “feral” dogs. One of the groups biggest projects occurred last summer when they sent a team of Cornell students and engineers to Honduras to design a water-purifying system to provide safe drinking water for the residents there.

“To a lot of people engineering is not a service profession, we want to show them that it can be a service profession.” said co-president DanBonner ’06 on the one of the main goals of the organization.

Archived article by Keri Frank
Sun Staff Writer