April 23, 2008

Student Groups Hold Earth Day Celebration

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“If you don’t recycle, ninjas might kill you,” read a t-shirt distributed by the Ecology House at yesterday’s Earth Day celebration. Student groups celebrated the day by spreading awareness and promoting action for social and environmental issues.
According to Rachel Cluett ’10, a member of the Sustainability Hub and one of the primary organizers of the event, Earth Day aims to “give student organizations a chance to talk about what they’re doing and to educate other students about what’s happening on-campus and in the community.”
This year, participating groups included the Sustainability Hub, the Society for Natural Resources Conservation, the Dilmun Hill Student Farm, Cornell to Farm, KyotoNow!, as well as projects from the BIONB 321: State of the Planet class. [img_assist|nid=30141|title=Warm and toasty|desc=Gregory Mazo ’10 roasts a marshmallow yesterday at the Engineers for a Sustainable World booth on Ho Plaza.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Projects covered a wide range of issues, from the use of solar energy in cooking to a design for a car that will run 100 miles per gallon. Events included live music, skit performances by the Eco Players, demonstrations, activities and tabling.
The Cornell Solar Cooker Team, part of the student group Engineers for a Sustainable World, demonstrated the effective use of solar energy in cooking. According to Leslie Campbell ’08, the team began their initiative by creating box ovens and helped to build them in Nicaragua.
The project’s success would mean, “women don’t have to go out and collect wood,” Campbell said, and the ovens also “reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and increase safety by not cooking over an open flame.”
Currently, the group is working on a parabolic cooker, which “focuses all the light on one point” in order to use high heat for frying tortillas, according to Campbell. At yesterday’s celebration, participants roasted marshmallows by dipping them in water and cocoa, and then holding them in the reflected light of the cooker.
It was “the best goddamn marshmallow I’ve ever had,” Nikhil Chandra ’08 commented.
“Think Outside the Bottle” asked students to participate in a taste test of tap water versus plastic bottled water. According to Chelsea Clarke ’10, member of the Sustainability Hub, the project aims to raise awareness about the harmful aspects of drinking bottled water.
“It’s very wasteful,” Clarke said, because “a lot of the plastic doesn’t get recycled.”
According to Erin Johnson ’10, “tap water has stricter regulations” than bottled water, so it is just as healthy to drink as bottled water. Furthermore, even after drinking just once from a plastic water bottle, the plastic in the bottle begins to leech into the stomach, a danger that can be avoided by drinking from metal water bottles.
“Most people can’t taste the difference between tap and bottled water,” Clarke said, “so why buy [bottled water]?”
Diane Dang ’10 thought that the taste test was “a pretty cool experiment,” even though she said she “could slightly tell the difference between [the water].”
Additionally, Hillel distributed free compact-fluorescent light bulbs as a part of the yearlong “Hillel Turned Me On” initiative to distribute energy-efficient bulbs on campus.
The Sustainability Hub displayed Big Red Bikes, a plan for bike sharing to create a more sustainable campus.
Cornell Dining also presented their sustainability efforts, which includes recycling in all dining units, composting, buying 20 percent local produce, and using green cleaning products and vegetable oil re-use for student teams researching alternative vehicle fuels.
Whitney Larsen ’08, next year’s president of the Sustainability Hub, said that Earth Day “was a blast, with a lot of people stopping by.”
“It was a beautiful day,” she said.