The grass is greener on the other side. That is, at least, what many students aim for by educating the campus about the environment.
Students celebrated Earth Week at Chapman April 18-22. Events and acts of activism popped up around campus, which addressed environmental issues, including what students can do to live more eco-friendly.
“The importance of Earth Week lies in the fact that we spend 51 other weeks not fully noticing this planet,” said Amelia Cunningham, a senior environmental science and policy major. “Humans are absolutely dependent on the earth, and yet we have historically denied this connection, which has generated the climate threat, as well as every other environmental problem we face.”
Cunningham is also a member of the Green Panther movement on campus.
“Green Panthers was started by a few seniors at Chapman as a catch-all term for environmentally conscious people on campus,” Cunningham said. “There’s no official goal for this movement, but ideally, Green Panthers would inspire greater environmental activism on campus.”
Leah Thomas, a junior environmental science and policy major and resident adviser, planned activities for Earth Week in the Sandhu Residence Center.
“We’ve gotten so far removed from the idea that we need Earth and continue to pull from it without maintaining balance to sustain it,” Thomas said. “Earth Week serves as that reminder to tell people to appreciate Earth and that it can be fun.”
Thomas’ events ranged from a vegan ice cream and pizza party to a discussion on how to be more environmentally friendly in the dorms.
“A lot of my activities are related to decreasing meat consumption,” Thomas said. “Although I still eat meat, I realize the importance of cutting back due to the greenhouse gas emissions from meat production.”
The University Program Board also planned events in honor of environmental awareness.
“We wanted to take the usual way we plan events and incorporate Earth Day,” said Kara Ojebuoboh, a sophomore business administration major and the director of the University Program Board’s Panther Nights Committee.
The committee put on an event April 22 that allowed students to create pots for tomato plants. The University Program Board also hosted a volunteer opportunity April 23 in which students were able to plant and harvest oranges with the Orange County Food Access Coalition, an organization that aims to bring more nutritious foods to vulnerable areas in the county, Ojebuoboh said.
Civic Engagement also hosts events relating to the environment throughout the year, including ROOTS Native Habitat Restoration, which is a program in partnership with the California Coastal Commission that allows student volunteers to help restore the Newport Beach wetlands.
“In the spring, we usually work on planting new local species to flourish,” said Elizabeth Hill, a sophomore biological sciences major and Civic Engagement worker.
ROOTS occurs monthly, and is open to all interested students. This month’s trip was on April 23 in honor of Earth Week.
While reusing is helpful and makes an impact, those involved in plastic activism would argue that reduction is key.
CK Magliola, the director of the women’s studies program, saw Jeff Bridges’ video called “When did we become a Plastic Society?,” which discusses the dangers in plastic and why it has such a negative impact on Earth.
“It was a really good kick in the pants,” Magliola said. “I hadn’t fully understood that plastic is forever.”
The video inspired her to create the Plastic Activism event, which aimed to increase awareness on the hazards of plastic and get students to pledge off single-use plastic bags.
“It is an easy fix with a dramatic impact,” Magliola said. “I took the pledge two years ago, and it took a little bit of effort. The first five times when I’d sometimes forget my reusable bags and have to turn around, but now it is habit.”
The students involved in the event decorated trees on main campus with plastic bags and information about them. They also encouraged other students to sign the pledge and switch to reusable alternatives when shopping.
“It takes sometimes just one person to make a difference,” Magliola said.