Earth Day will be upon us soon. Earth Day is the one day that the entire world will come together to celebrate the beauty of the Earth, to bring awareness to how people affect this planet we call home, and how we as humanity may work to mitigate negative impacts on the natural environment. The Missouri S&T community will be celebrating this event a few days early on Thursday, April 19th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Havener lawn. At this event, which is organized by EcoMiners, there will be an assortment of booths and displays, along with live music and theater entertainment. There will also be an exhibit hosted by the Art department and EcoMiners titled Mt. Trashmore to showcase the waste generation of a typical college student. Other events such as highway, dumpsite, and creek clean ups may be implemented during the week of Earth Day as well.This year, Earth Day will be nationally spotlighting ways that we can end plastic pollution. On the website promoting Earth Day (https://www.earthday.org/), it stated that the range of the effects of plastics is immense in our world, anywhere “from poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.”
Tips to reduce and eventually eliminate plastic from our lives can be as easy as rethinking the way that we pack lunch, such as using reusable cutlery, storing food in glass containers, and drinking from a stainless steel or glass water bottle. Additionally, using reusable shopping bags for groceries and produce can eliminate a significant amount of plastic waste that we see in our environment; just remember to keep them somewhere handy and convenient. Making your own food is not only cheaper and healthier - typically - it also saves plastic and other unnecessary trash/waste from drink cups and packaging.
The EcoMiners organization focuses on promoting sustainable living in our lives and the lives of others on the S&T campus, as well as advocating environmental-stewardship in the Rolla community and surrounding area. EcoMiners has been extremely successful at RecycleMania - a nationwide competition between universities to gauge and compare the recycle-efficiency of each campus by a weight percentage comparison of trash to recycled material. EcoMiners promotes Recyclemania and has participated in Nationwide diversion competition for ten years now. Last year, their diversion rate was 34%, which was the highest percentage reached yet by the organization. This percentage is calculated by comparing the amount recycled on campus compared to the amount thrown away on campus.
EcoMiners held an electronic recycling event earlier in the semester, which surpassed any expectations; there were even individuals traveling from out of town to recycle their old electronics and batteries. The organization collaborated with S&T Surplus and S&T Department of Health and Safety to make the event possible. It was part of Keep America Beautiful’s Recyclemania campaign. Due to its success, they are now planning to make it a reoccuring event each semester. The money raised from turning in the recycling goes back to the organization, who manages recycling for special campus events like Celebration of Nations, the Career Fair, outdoor sports games, and other special events.
As a college student, steps that you can take to be more environmentally-friendly include: recycling and composting appropriate materials, becoming vegetarian/vegan or limiting the amount of meat consumed as this is a major source of waste and greenhouse gas production, carpooling or walking to campus, using reusable containers and silverware both at home and in the cafeteria, actively work to reduce water and electricity consumption, plus many more.
Even though Earth day is still a few weeks away, the time is now to consider new ways to reduce your use of plastic and overall environmental impact. Sharing the word about plastic pollution and ways to be more vigilant about the impact that our daily practices have on the world with others can be a catalyst for a chain of positive change.