Lectures by prominent environmentalists, a solar-house building competition and a campus-wide fair on Ho Plaza have previously ushered in Earth Day — and for this April 22, Cornell’s annual slew of sustainability events is blooming across campus.
April marks Cornell’s Sustainability Month, which normally consists of festivals, eco-based fashion shows, sustainability parties and other in-person celebrations across campus.
While this Sustainability Month looks different, Cornell has still hosted many virtual sustainability events, including a Climate Change Seminar series, a student-led sustainability conference and a project exposition by Cornell University Sustainable Design.
For Earth Day, sustainability-centered student organizations have been working to create informative and engaging online events for the Cornell community.
Climate Justice Cornell is partnering with the national College Climate Coalition, a national climate change advocacy organization, to co-host a three-day event called Beyond Earth Day 2021 to promote revolutionary climate justice.
“With the climate crisis rapidly evolving, we need a solution unlike any other, and this means going #BeyondEarthDay,” a statement from Climate Justice Cornell’s Instagram reads.
Beyond Earth Day 2021 will include a virtual rally on April 23 and an all-day virtual training and conference series on April 24.
Erin Fox ’23, tech coordinator for CJC, said while Earth Day doesn’t align with the club’s values of intersectional environmentalism — going beyond just recycling and going green — they chose to celebrate Earth Day this year because of their partnership with College Climate Coalition to promote their mission of revolutionary climate justice.
“Using this time of awareness to remind people of the intersectionality and pervasiveness of climate change, environmental racism and classism, and how all these issues are linked, we hope that the Beyond Earth Day events introduce new people to climate activism,” Fox said.
Beyond student groups, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the nonprofit research organization that educates communities across New York on issues such as consumer agriculture and nutrition, is hosting a 10-hour virtual Earth Day Stream-a-thon for Cornell students and local communities across the state.
This year will mark the second year for CCE’s Earth Day event, which will include a backyard composting demo tour that will teach students about food waste, a spring home energy check-up and an educational session on carbon footprints for children.
Michelle Gluck, resource educator for CCE Dutchess County, said it’s important to take a day to recognize the Earth, even as the world navigates the pandemic and vaccine rollout.
“For this specific event, it was important to not just sit back and say, ‘We can’t do anything,’” Gluck said.
Gluck is hosting a free viewing of the 2020 CNBC Special Report on Plastics –– a short film about plastic pollution and climate change –– and will facilitate a discussion afterward on how to reduce plastic pollution — sharing this message to an online audience.
Besides the stream-a-thon, organizations are also hosting experiential games and interactive sessions, aimed at incorporating some fun into classic Earth Day events.
Cornell University Sustainable Design is hosting an Earth Day scavenger hunt Thursday to highlight sustainability-centered locations and items around the Cornell campus, such as roof-top solar, water bottle filling stations, LEED buildings and electric vehicle charging stations.
Cornell is also promoting an online Earth Day trivia event in the evening, hosted by comedian Kenneth McLaurin and musician SingTrece to quiz the audience on climate knowledge and raise awareness about local environmentalism efforts.
Despite their varying mediums, all the events hope to celebrate the Earth and advocate for a more sustainable world.
“These types of events catalyze the positive action that comes with stewardship and environmentalism,” Gluck said.