Earth Day Celebration reminds students to support sustainability


Iowa State’s Earth Day Celebration 2023.

Celebrating a sustainable future with different student organizations, interactive upcycling activities and prizes, ISU’s 2023 Earth Day Celebration brought together university students and community members.

Earth Day, April 22, is a global celebration to support environmental protection, promote sustainability and increase awareness of environmental issues.

“The Urgency is Now -The Opportunity is Now” was the theme of the celebration Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., encouraging attendees to take action and engage in sustainable solutions for a greener future.

At Iowa State, Earth Day is a way to educate the community about different sustainability initiatives and organizations that contribute to the sustainability agenda according to the Office of Sustainability.

Haylie Moore, a junior in global resource systems, and Haley Wegener, a senior in political science, were named the 2022 Live Green! Initiative Campus and Community Engagement intern team.

Wegener said Live Green!, Iowa State’s sustainability initiative, works to engage the community and involve the campus to improve sustainability.

“[Live Green!] kind of highlights how many people are actually involved in sustainability around campus,” Wegener said.

Moore said all the participating campus and community groups came to celebrate their sustainable initiatives and Earth Day.

“We’re also doing a lot of outreach within the campus, and so we’re trying to catch people that are passing by class because a lot of people don’t even realize that it’s Earth Day, so this is to get people to understand what we’re celebrating,” Moore said.

Moore said the event’s theme highlights environmental issues that need help, such as the climate. She added that the event is supposed to look at aspects of the earth that require action but also celebrate the good.

“[Earth Day is about] showing the bad side and then also giving people hope and show that there’s actually good things happening,” Moore said.

Moore said becoming involved in the sustainability initiative is not solely for environmentally focused majors, encouraging students across campus to educate themselves and get involved.

Participants were able to receive prizes that increased in value as they spoke with more organizations at the event.

Moore said that Iowa State’s Recreation Services attended the event, offering free bicycle tune-ups along with 88.5 KURE, a student-run radio station that will be facilitating music.

Wegener said Earth Day is a time to celebrate where the university stands currently related to sustainability and evaluate the steps needed to reach future sustainability goals.

“We focus on three different facets of sustainability: environmental, economic and social,” Moore said.

“Sustainability can encompass a lot of things that people don’t even realize and [the event is] another way that people can get involved in things that they didn’t even realize [existed],” Wegener said.

Hanna Wiltse, a senior majoring in kinesiology and health representing Student Wellness, said she hoped to give students a better idea of any free resources the organization offers, such as mental health services.

Wiltse added that this information was unknown to her when she was a freshman. She suggested students take advantage of the student wellness services offered.

“Earth Day to me means celebrating what we have on this planet, and how we can utilize those resources,” Wiltse said.

Bridget Cameron, a junior majoring in biology, said she had forgotten that Earth Day was occurring this week but was grateful for the reminder.

“It’s just a good reminder to do things like recycling, and [I] just actually learned that Ames got a new can redemption center up and going,” Cameron said.

Cameron said her apartment complex sends all trash, including cans, to a landfill. She said it is good knowledge to have that another option for recycling exists.

“I’m just glad there’s more awareness going around,” Cameron said.

Ben Young, a representative of Iowa State Utilities such as the power plant and North Chilled Water Plant, said he hoped to exhibit some recent conversations around reducing greenhouse emissions.

Young added that the power plant recently transitioned from using coal in the boilers to running on gas.

“[We’re] trying to lessen our impact on nature and the environment and be better stewards of everything around us, treat it with respect and not be detrimental,” Young said.

Stephanie Warnstadt, a senior majoring in history and a representative of Student Wellness, said she is grateful for the opportunity to appreciate the opportunities for sustainability.

“[Earth Day means] taking a moment to recognize and appreciate what we have and hopefully recognize what we need to do to ensure sustainability,” Warnstadt said.

Warnstadt said Student Wellness offers a variety of resources for things like mental health, environmental support, physical wellness and financial support.

Maris Cameron, a junior majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, said she has been trying to actively participate in the sustainability initiative by growing plants and succulents at home.

“I think it’s important to be effective with the materials that we use and how to, you know, make sure everything is being replenished on earth and everything,” Cameron said.