Between April 18 to 23, the University of Maine celebrated Earth Week on campus through exciting events which promote taking care of the planet and sustainability. As April 22 was Earth Day, the UMaine community was committed to taking action in celebration. Many events took place to celebrate the occasion, such as a farm to table dinner and efforts to clean up the community.
Some events were open all week for students to enjoy, such as the UMaine Green Campus Initiative’s photo contest on their Instagram page, where students can submit their nature photos to win prizes. There was also a sale at the UMaine Bookstore which featured discounted reusable straws. Fogler Library also sponsored their seventh annual film series focusing on sustainability and featured information about plastic use on their website to help people make educated decisions on how much plastic they use.
Earth Day was first celebrated 51 years ago and became a holiday due to the general public’s increased concern about the environment. According to a Green Campus Initiative article, on the very first Earth Day, 10% of the American population participated in some activity to show solidarity with the growing environmental movement. French believes having an Earth Day is very important in order to spread awareness.
“At present, Earth Day is established as a yearly celebration, but most importantly to raise environmental awareness for the issues we are still facing today. That is by far the most important reason for there to be an Earth Day, to keep public awareness up and to not let these environmental issues slip out of the public eye,” Green Campus Initiative author Harry French wrote.
The first event of the week was a Trash Clean Up sponsored by Divest UMS, the Green Team and the Wildlife Society. Everyone who participated in the event met up on the Stewart Quad at 2 p.m. on April 18 and then made their way to Hilltop and it’s outdoor dining area to pick up trash that was left outside.
Monday, April 19 was more focused on plants, as the Permaculture and Gardening Club held a plant sale at the Terrell House featuring veggie plants, flowers and potted houseplants. From noon to 2 p.m. the Permaculture and Gardening Club also sponsored an event called Sowing Seeds, where they sow seeds in garden beds outside.
On Earth Day itself, there were many events for students to participate in, including a community art project, a merchandise giveaway at the UMaine Bookstore and a Carbon Footprint Simulation where people can see how their carbon footprint might look based on their current habits and learn how to reduce it. UMaine Dining sponsored a farm to table dinner in celebration of Earth Day as well. From 4:30 to 8 p.m., students could choose from many locally sourced entrees, including meatless options. There was wheat berry and broccoli salad from Maine Grains, potatoes from Circle B Farms, and roasted sides of salmon from the Gulf of Maine with Sister’s Salsa.
According to the UMaine Dining website, sustainability in regards to food has been important to UMaine since 2007 when they partnered with a small farm in Newport, Maine. Since then, they have expanded their goals.
“UMaine Dining is committed to local products and sustainable practices. The University of Maine has surpassed its goal of sourcing 20% of its food purchases locally by 2020. This includes produce grown on campus by the Black Bear Food Guild and UMaine Greens. We are looking to reach a new goal of 25% by 2025!” the website reads.
Overall, UMaine marked another successful year of celebrating Earth Day by raising awareness for environmental issues through various events. For more information about what you can do, to please check out the Office of Sustainability website here: https://umaine.edu/sustainability/what-is-sustainability/