U.Va. Students Plan Carnival for Earth Day

April 18, 2007 -- This year, Earth Day will take on a carnival atmosphere at U.Va.

U.Va. students will mark Earth Day on April 19 in front of Old Cabell Hall, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Earth Day is traditionally held on April 22. But U.Va. decided to mark the occasion on April 19 because Thursday “is the best day to catch people who are going to classes,” said Bruce C. “Sonny” Beale, recycling program superintendent for the University. “We want to show students what can be done to protect and enhance the environment. We want to educate them in water and electricity conservation and how they can reduce waste.”

“We want to make the Earth Day Extravaganza as big as possible,” said Lindsey L. Daniels, 20, a student employee of the University’s recycling department and director of the Conservation Advocacy program. “We are going to do a dumpster dive, a guessing contest with bales of recycled cans and plastic bottles, a paper airplane contest, bowling with two-liter plastic bottles, a balloon popping game and tossing crushed cans through the hole on top of recycling bins.”

Daniels and students from Student Environmental Action (which has absorbed the Student Alliance for Virginia’s Environment), Virginia Environmental Law Forum, Environmental Education and Protection Society, The Environmental Sciences Organization, and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur are planning the event.

“We are trying to develop a University-wide coalition on sustainability,” Beale said.

There will be demonstrations of ways the University is conserving energy and resources, such as low-flow showerheads and faucets and energy conserving light bulbs, Daniels said, and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety will hand out literature and items such as earplugs. Others will be promoting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, which the University recently adopted for new construction on Grounds.   The Virginia Climate Initiative is also supporting the event and will have literature available through UVa Recycling. Students Taking Action Now: Darfur is raising money to send solar-powered ovens to Darfur.

There will be displays from companies that are recycling or using recycled materials, such as TREX, a company that blends recycled plastic with wood particles to create lumber. Crutchfield, a local electronics marketing firms, will also be there promoting its electronic recycling program. Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, which advocates low impact hiking and camping, will also be represented.

“The point here is to increase awareness,” Daniels said. “We mark America Recycles Day in November but now we really want to catch people’s attention.”

What can be recycled is a lot. Beale said when Crutchfield started its electronic components recycling, taking in cellular telephones, television sets and stereo components, the company anticipated about 20 tons of material a year. Since August, Beale said, the company has recycled 43 tons.

Daniels anticipates a large crowd, noting that about 200 students signed recycling pledges at the America Recycles Day, where all they featured was a dumpster dive, in which students spread out the contents of an on-Grounds dumpster to demonstrate how much of what had been thrown away could have been recycled.

“Our absolute minimum [goal] for attendance is 500 people, ” said Daniels, who predicts that “thousands will see us.”

For more information on the Virginia Climate Initiative, visit http://www.vaclimate.org/

For more information on the Earth Day Extravaganza, visit http://recycle.virginia.edu/