College News

Earth Week in UW-Madison: Inclusively celebrating the planet

The campus where Earth Day was first celebrated focuses on inclusion and collaboration throughout UW-Madison. 

Image By: Courtesy of ASM Sustainability Committee

The campus that started a tradition of celebrating planet Earth is connecting back to its environmentalist spirits, while integrating its most recent mission: inclusion.

Earth Day founder and former Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was widely known for his efforts in socioeconomic equality and environmentalist activism. Nelson first proposed Earth Day on April 22, 1970, to create a platform for the public to express its concerns of the environment to political figures. 

“An estimated 20 million people nationwide attended festivities that day,” America’s Library website said. “It was a truly astonishing grassroots explosion, leading eventually to national legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.”

UW-Madison will be dedicating a entire week to celebrating planet Earth, April 15 through April 22, with at least three events each day — ranging from free breakfast at the top of Bascom Hill to teaching students how to fix bike chains. 

The Associated Students of Madison and the Office of Sustainability will collaborate with many student organizations to celebrate and educate on sustainability. The events this year range from social media campaigns to campus workshops.

“Sustainability is inherently intersectional. It does not exist in a vacuum, it can speak to everyone so Earth Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the Earth and get civically engaged,” ASM Sustainability Chair Katie Piel said. 

The UW-Madison senior has pioneered relationships with organizations on campus to keep sustainability a priority even after Earth Week and encourage collaboration. 

“Campus operates in silos much of the time; very independently, we have our event for our own audiences and rarely do we cross over,” Piel said. 

Organizations like ASM have been making notable strides in overcoming this challenge and have been successful through meatless Monday efforts, a collaboration between the Equity and Inclusion Committee and the Sustainability Committee. 

On Tuesday, the Latinx Cultural Center will kickstart a trash pick-up thread on Twitter. The Office of Sustainability was inspired by the Multicultural Student Center's work to host a environmental justice workshop, which will highlight how issues like climate change has widely different impacts on different communities. 

The Campus Women's Center will lead a sustainable menstruation workshop. The annual campus-wide party, hosted by Wisconsin Alumni Student Board, will coincide with Earth Week this year. 

In spirit of collaboration, the WASB will kick off the week by having free "Breakfast with Bucky" on Bascom Hill to educate students on waste and compost management with the Office of Sustainability interns. 

Editor's Note: [Correction: 4/12/2019 1:46 p.m.] The Office of Sustainability did not partner with the Multicultural Student Center; however, they were inspired by their programming. "Breakfast with Bucky" is not a zero waste event, but an effort to educate on waste and compost management. 

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