Earth Week celebrations kick off with Earth Day Fest at UMD

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Seniors Fiona Kennedy and Julia Leikin imprint their hands on a painted tapestry at the Earth Day Festival in Stamp Ballroom. Photo by Sabrina Viscomi.

By Greta Easthom

The campus community joined 30 organizations at Stamp’s Grand Ballroom April 16 to celebrate Earth Day to learn about sustainable practices and environmental legislation.

Live music floated about from the Radiographers and smoothies served as participants milled about the various stands.

The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) and University of Maryland’s Student Government Association sponsored the festival.

“This year, our festival theme was ‘Your Planet, Your Voice,’ and so we focused on getting people engaged to protect the planet and its resources through policymaking and activism,” said Amelia Avis, a junior public policy major and the SSC director of government affairs. “We try to balance sustainability engagement in various ways, from the individual to the national level.”

The festival was in conjunction UMD’s Earth Week, which also included events like GreenFest, hosted by UMD’s Department of Resident Life.

“Many people are scared to go full vegetarian or vegan, but even just cutting meat out one day a week can have a huge impact,” senior agricultural and resource economics major Christina Davis said.

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Senior agricultural and resource economics major Christina Davis hosted a table at the Earth Day Festival to teach students the benefits of being vegan/vegetarian and sign a pledge to eat less meat. Photo by Sabrina Viscomi.

During the festival, Davis and junior Wade Williams dedicated their time to teaching students how much energy, water and resources can be saved just by abstaining from meat.

“The amount of greens we use to feed livestock could be used to feed ourselves,” Davis said, adding that high projection populations predict a future where even more animals are killed.

Attendees were asked to sign the Small Footprint Pledge — a list of 12 actions students can take to increase their sustainable practices, such as recycling or riding a bike over driving a car.

“We have them write it down because it helps them solidify the plan as constant reminders,” junior environmental science and technology major Taylor Brinks said. “It gets people thinking about the different ways they can be involved.”

Other professional organizations at the festival included the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). Members of the group urged students to sign petitions and support climate legislation.

CCAN also pushed to inform attendees about the Clean Energy Jobs Act initiative, which would increase Renewable Portfolio Standards by 50 percent by 2030 and provide incentives for minority and women-owned businesses to engage in sustainable business practices, according to intern and senior environmental science policy major Lauren Brown.

“If we diversify who these business owners are that are selling clean energy, such as solar panels, then we can increase more buy-in,” CCAN Director of Maryland Volunteer Outreach Elizabeth Lee said. “This will diversify who is buying into clean energy. ”

 

 

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