EarthFest expands programming and opens up to new organizations

Zoe Covey

Features Editor

It’s time for EarthFest at The College of Wooster, and this year it’s going to be bigger than ever. The event is hosted by Greenhouse and will be this Friday, April 19 on the Lowry back patio. It focuses on raising awareness of ways to increase sustainability here on campus through interaction with both student and off-campus groups passionate about the environment. According to Mackenzie Goltz ’20, president of Greenhouse, this year the group has attempted to invite other clubs to think about their role and ability to increase sustainability on campus.

“This year we really focused on reaching out to other campus clubs. We want sustainability to be inclusive, and we really believe it can be added to any organization. Some clubs were unable to join us this year, but we hope that by reaching out we have opened the door to future collaboration,” said Goltz.

Greenhouse, as well as the other clubs who were interested in working to be more environmentally conscious on campus, will be present at EarthFest to discuss their connection to sustainability. “We have a bunch of tables hosted by various Wooster clubs, departments and a few off-campus groups. We will have campus dining, Free Store, Vegan Club and many other groups that have somehow incorporated environmentalism into their activities. Some clubs will have information about what they do or games for students to play. Additionally, there will be food and music,” Goltz said

Vice President Olivia Hall ’19 said that “what’s new this year is the larger context [EarthFest] is situated in. My first two years we only had EarthFest. It was great, but felt kind of just an isolated, one-off event. So then last year we piloted doing Earth Week, which took place the week leading up to EarthFest and integrated more events, both put on by Greenhouse, as well as other groups. This year, we decided to expand upon last year by doing EnviroMonth, which we conceived as a broader swath of environmental programming spanning the first four weeks of April. In the first two weeks we just had one or two events each week, but this week — which is still Earth Week  — we were able to pack in events almost every day of the week.”

The hope is that making environmentally friendly practices visible and accessible will inspire students to make small changes in their daily routines that are beneficial to the environment. “One of our major goals is to introduce students to the flexibility of sustainable thinking. We aren’t asking everyone to put solar panels on their roofs. It can be a simple thing like making your own make-up or reducing water usage. EarthFest is a cool and interactive way to pick up on these ideas. We also want students to learn about how inclusive environmentalism is. Every student, regardless of gender, political party, animal ethics and race, can find some niche in the realm of sustainable thinking about the environment,” said Goltz. Hall added that, “Obviously there are student groups like Greenhouse, EARTH House, Organic Farming Club, WOODS and so on that are all open for students to join, and students can also engage with the environment through classes. But by holding events for EnviroMonth, we’re trying to provide just another, somewhat lower commitment avenue for people to come interact with and learn about the environment.”

Having an awareness of what is happening on campus surrounding the care of the environment is something that constantly needs to be updated. Hall said, “EarthFest and EnviroMonth are important specifically at C.O.W. for a number of reasons … C.O.W. is pretty far behind with regards to the environment and sustainability. While most other schools have had some sort of environmental major available for years, at C.O.W. it’s debuting next year. Similarly, it’s been years since we had a Sustainability Coordinator or just any staff member whose sole job was to focus on these issues. So a lot of the work of holding events and educating the campus about sustainability has fallen to students and student groups.”

According to Goltz, “EarthFest is one of the few times sustainability is brought up on campus. It’s even more relevant since the sustainability committee is finalizing its five-year plan to make the campus more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Wooster prides itself on its collaboration and scientific achievements, but we are behind most of the Ohio 5 schools in terms of how eco-friendly we are. EarthFest is a celebration of what students can do to make a difference, and we hope it drops a thought in every student’s mind about their roles in protecting our planet.”

Check out EarthFest this Friday on Mom’s Patio!