Earth Fest 2018 educates CSU students

By Kelsey Allen

Cleveland State University’s Earth Fest 2018 saw a turnout of over 400 students last Thursday, April 19. The annual event, hosted by the Office of Sustainability and the Student Environmental Movement, is designed to raise awareness about sustainability here on campus.

“The overall goal is to offer students and faculty opportunities to get involved in sustainability initiatives at work, at school, at home and in the community,” Jennifer McMillin, director of sustainability, said.

Organizations present at Earth Fest represented a broad range of sustainability-related issues, including energy efficiency, parks and wildlife, sustainable transportation and water conservation.

Students in attendance had the opportunity to fill up “eco-passports” with stamps from the various organizations’ tables and use their stamps to enter to win prizes such as a bicycle or a rain collection barrel.

The event featured over 35 organizations, two electric vehicles used by university staff and a giant inflatable Earth dome in the very center of the Student Center atrium.

“I liked seeing the big Earth dome,” Reem Usmani, a social work major said. “I really wish I could have been here for the entire thing.”

Earth Fest’s purpose is to inspire Cleveland State students to make small changes in their daily lives that positively impact the environment.

“I recycle my cardboard and my plastic, I turn off the lights before I leave a room and I never take the elevator,” Usmani said.

Emily Brown, president of the Student Environmental Movement, spoke about what drove them to plan this event.

“It is so important to be a responsible citizen,” Brown said. “We all have to share this planet.”

Amanda Wagner, an environmental science major, agreed with the statements.

“We need to have more awareness of environmental issues on campus, and we need to make a bigger impact,” Wagner said.

Cleveland State has made a huge impact on the environment in recent years as well. The university purchases 30 percent of its electricity from green and renewable sources and invests in energy efficient measures such as LED lighting.

The university now has GOhio Commute on campus, a ridesharing and carpooling platform for Cleveland State students and employees to use in order to cut back on emissions. The University also has over 40 filtered water stations across campus at which students can refill their reusable bottles.

All campus cafes offer a discount on coffee if you bring a reusable mug instead of taking the paper cup that is usually offered, and the Starbucks in Playhouse Square offers a ten-cent discount on your drink if you bring your own cup.

The university might consider changing the labels of the plastic recycling bins across campus to reflect which recycle numbers can be put in the bins. For example, plastics with a number 7 on them cannot be recycled.

McMillin’s worked hard to bring all of these sustainability initiatives to campus. She hopes that Earth Fest helps students realize how easy it is to be a little bit more environmentally conscious.

“If every individual takes a few small steps,” McMillin said. “We can reach our goals to reduce waste and emissions.”