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Earth Day Festival unites in promoting sustainability, awareness

Many+organizations+set+up+tables+on+the+Lory+Student+Center+West+Lawn+for+the+Earth+Day+Festival+April+22.
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Many organizations set up tables on the Lory Student Center West Lawn for the Earth Day Festival April 22.

In support of environmental protection and Earth Day, Colorado State University hosted a festival where students could learn more about sustainability and what they can do to help their community and influence local legislation.

This event takes place every April 22, and it is coordinated by earthday.org. The theme of this year’s Earth Day Festival was Planet vs. Plastics.

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Mary Callaghan works as a campus ambassador for the ReusePass program, a reusable container program on campus that mitigates the use of plastic in dining halls.

“We only have one Earth, and as we can tell by Colorado’s crazy weather, it’s dying. It’s very morbid, but we’re actively noticing changes to our Earth, and I like this Earth; I want to stay on it, and I hope everyone else does, too.” –Raegan Synk, journalism student

“We’re promoting the fact that we’ve officially saved 90,000 gallons of water from being used on campus by using the reusable containers,” Callaghan said. 

The program would like to ensure the containers are accessible to students through Grubhub, RAMwich Express and Ram’s Horn Express. 

CSU students are most likely familiar with compostable containers; however, they have been replaced with reusable containers, as they save water during the manufacturing process and increase sustainability. 

“Once they’re used twice they become — sustainability-wise — superior to the compostable containers,” Callaghan said.

The container itself is free to use, incentivizing students even more to choose them.

After students have used the containers, they can return them to bins across campus at dining locations.

“It’s obviously working,” Callaghan said. “We’re saving water, and we’re saving other resources. It’s a huge agricultural issue to have to use the compostable containers, so it’s really important that students know (the reusable containers are) there.”

Another booth geared toward CSU students was the Student Sustainability Center, a club that funds students with environmental initiatives — one of those being The Patchwork Initiative.

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“(The Patchwork Initiative is) a club where we promote slow fashion,” journalism student Raegan Synk said. “We host mending workshops, (and we host) documentary screenings.” 

Synk’s main purpose presenting at the Earth Day Festival was to talk to students about adopting a more sustainable lifestyle at school, in their dorms and in their lives. 

One of the biggest ways students can live more sustainable lives is through waste reduction, reusing what they already have, recycling, composting and making sure their waste goes into the correct storage bins.

Another student-led project was the creation of bee hotels. Students were asked by Annabelle Thomas, a student from the Eco Leaders Peer Education Program, to join her in making homes for pollinators.

“There’s a lot of native pollinators in Colorado — there are 946 species, and (we) basically just want to encourage them to come pollinate our flowers rather than honeybees,” Thomas said.

Typically, people associate pollinators with bees, especially fuzzy honeybees, but they are not from Colorado and are considered an invasive species.

Thomas plans to soon put these homes in the pollinator gardens at CSU, which students can find through an interactive map on CSU’s website.

These booths were not just about CSU but the Fort Collins community overall. Cortney Geary works for the City of Fort Collins and discussed the new projects in the Center Avenue area at CSU.

Center Avenue will be resurfaced this summer. Concrete and crossing work will be worked on around the area to aid pedestrian and cyclist activity.

“After the resurfacing, we’ll add separated bike lanes,” Geary said. That way, cyclists can feel more comfortable next to car lanes, limiting the risk of accidents.

The City of Fort Collins wants to help achieve climate goals by providing residents with easy access to active modes of transportation: bicycles, electric bikes, wheelchairs, scooters, skateboards and walking.

“This (project) is part of implementing our active modes plan for the city, and we have a goal of achieving 50% active modes of all trips by 2032,” Geary said. “Transportation is one of the major contributors to our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Earth Day is not just about environmental issues but the populations that make up Earth, too.

Cordelia Stone is a volunteer who attempted to get signatures at the festival to prohibit trophy hunting.

“We are trying to get a measure on the November ballot, and if it’s on there, it’ll be called Initiative 91,” Stone said.

Stone and her team are aiming to prevent trophy hunting of mountain lions and fur trapping of bobcats. This is a state measure, and their team needs 125,000 signatures by July 5 for it to be enacted.

“It’s a wildlife issue — it’s unsportsmanlike; it’s cruel,” Stone said. “Juvenile bobcats are left to their own devices without their parents teaching them.”

Trophy hunting is when people hunt mountain lions, but instead of using them for food, they are killed solely to put their heads on a wall. These hunters kill the biggest and best they can find, often the parents of younger mountain lions.

“Lynx who are protected species accidentally get stuck in those traps and die,” Stone said. Lynx, which are endangered and protected, are still affected by these hunters. 

There are multiple issues surrounding Mother Nature, but employees, students and volunteers were able to come together and share their concerns while encouraging others to help Earth.

“We only have one Earth, and as we can tell by Colorado’s crazy weather, it’s dying,” Synk said. “It’s very morbid, but we’re actively noticing changes to our Earth, and I like this Earth; I want to stay on it, and I hope everyone else does, too.”

Reach Sophie Webb at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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