Earth Day activities raise awareness toward sustainability practices


Brian Mozey/Iowa State Daily

The Earth Day celebration event took place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the library free speech zone April 22. Attendees had the opportunity to look at displays from sustainability-focused student, campus and community organizations and businesses. There were also free bike tune-ups and refreshments available.

Meghan Custis

Iowa State is taking strides to improve sustainability efforts, which campus will celebrate this upcoming week through Earth Day events.

Earth Day is considered the world’s largest environmental movement. It takes place on an annual basis, and this year, is celebrated on Monday. 

In 1969, U.S. Senator for Washington, Gaylord Nelson, was sparked with the idea to commemorate a day simply for appreciated our Earth. Taken aback by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Nelson knew something needed to be done to raise awareness of our deteriorating environment. Inspired by the anti-war movement protests led by students, Nelson knew his idea could become a reality.

On April 22, 1970 Americans set aside political views to take the the streets, parks, universities, to celebrate our planet and demonstrate living sustainably. Thousand of universities and colleges organized protests and marches speaking up for the deterioration of the environment. 

The Live Green! Initiative works toward a more sustainable campus every day of the year, not just on Earth Day. This campus-wide sustainability initiative encourages all students, faculty and staff to be more conscious and engaged in making Iowa State’s campus as green as possible. It is a comprehensive, overarching commitment to sustainability through all operations on campus.

The initiative is overseen by the Office of Sustainability and is run by Merry Ranking, director of Sustainability for Iowa State. The action is entirely student-led by team consists of eight student interns.

Developed in 2008, the 2018-2019 academic year marked the 10-year anniversary of the Live Green! Initiative. To commemorate the anniversary, Live Green! has been hosting sustainability themed events each month of the school year. To bring this celebratory year to a close, the finale event will be held during Earth Week on Thursday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on the South Library Lawn.

“We’re really looking to celebrate all things sustainability,” said Molly Bree, student intern for Live Green!

Earth Day is a worldwide celebration of Earth and all it provides. Everything we need to live and survive comes from the Earth, and we take this day to appreciate these resources, Rankin said.

“Why not have that particular day when we really, really focus and think about how fortunate we are in having our planet that provides so much to us?” Rankin said.

While Earth Day celebrates what the Earth gives, it also raises an awareness of the effect we all have on the longevity of Earth, and the resilience of it. It educates individuals on the opportunities one can have to care and protect the planet. 

Live Green’s final event is a way to celebrate Earth Day on campus. The event will consist of food and beverages, live music, organization tabling and a sustainability-themed giveaway. Students could receive a number of prices for attending the event or browsing the organizations that will have information on how to live sustainability in your everyday life. Live Green! hopes individuals can find their personal connection to sustainability while exploring the event.

“We don’t all have to do the same thing in order to take care of our planet, and nurture it for future generations,” Rankin said. “It’s just important that we do at least something.”

Students and faculty will learn something new while enjoying the lawn games, food and information the event has to offer. The event is come and go, and was planned to be convenient and easy to navigate for a quick stop between classes.

“It’s all about coming together toward our sustainable future,” Rankin said.

Additionally, Iowa State has other events to celebrate Earth month all through April. On Live Green’s website there are more than 100 events listed, with more added frequently.