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Celebrating Earth Month at Northwestern

April was a big month for Mother Earth at Northwestern. The campus community celebrated the planet with events and exhibits focused on waste, climate, environmental justice, transportation, food, energy, and resource conservation. In all, sustainNU hosted or supported 26 events, engaging over 1,000 people on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. Check out some of the highlights below.

Waste: Mt. Trashmore

Mt. Trashmore was raised along Sheridan Road again this year. This tower of trash represents the amount of waste Northwestern produces every six hours. To combat this waste, sustainNU and volunteers from SEED, Eco-Reps, and ASG stood by the mini-mountain and handed out waste-reducing giveaways, including reusable grocery bags, water bottles, and travel utensil sets. Over 400 people interacted with Mt. Trashmore volunteers throughout the day, many of whom were drawn in by the return of the costumed Green Person, Bag Ogre, and Talking Tree.

Transportation: Transportation Benefits Sessions

More than 65 people attended presentations on ways Northwestern is encouraging employees to use sustainable transportation. Sessions hosted by sustainNU and Human Resources Benefits took place on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. Benefits available to Northwestern employees include discounted Divvy bike-share memberships, reduced-cost parking passes for electric and hybrid vehicles on the Evanston campus, and pre-tax benefits for public transportation expenses. By choosing more sustainable modes of transportation, employees who take advantage of these benefits are saving cash and slashing carbon emissions.

Environmental Justice: Environmental Injustice in Chicago

Earth Month is not just about protecting nature; it is about protecting people too. To explore this, Fossil Free Northwestern, NU Community for Human Rights, and the Environmental Science Program hosted a panel to educate the campus community about the connections between the environment and social justice in Chicago. Speakers included community organizers fighting coal pollution in the Latino neighborhood of Pilsen, improving public transportation access for marginalized communities, and increasing energy efficiency in low-income multifamily homes. Around 40 students came out to hear about how these Chicagoans are fighting for a more just and sustainable city.

Energy: Bring Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Teaching our kids about their environmental impact is one of the most effective ways to build sustainable habits in the next generation. This is why sustainNU hosted an event for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. A group of kids in grades three through eight learned about the importance of saving energy, then channeled their new knowledge into some useful arts and crafts. They built and decorated colorful draft-blockers to lay by doors to keep their homes warm and save energy. The event made learning fun for the kids, and for the staff leading the event. For more on Northwestern’s Earth Month celebrations, watch this video, or check out the Earth Month photo album on Facebook.

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