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Earth Month

Northwestern celebrates Earth Day throughout April with events designed to engage the University community in issues of environmental sustainability. 

Earth Month 2020: Connections

sustainNU invites you to connect with the Northwestern community through a virtual celebration of Earth Month. Wherever you are, you can reduce your impact, connect to our planet, and be a part of a collective effort to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

To make sure you don’t miss any of these opportunities and to receive Earth Month announcements, invitations and news articles, subscribe to the sustainNU newsletter here. 

Northwestern's Role in the First Earth Day

A series of nationwide “teach-ins” characterized the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970. At that time, climate change and sustainability were not yet part of the lexicon but concern for the environment was building. Northwestern hosted the first teach-in, establishing a model for the day that has become synonymous with the environmental movement. Project Survival, as it was called, was held on January 23, 1970.Earth Month newsletters will be released every Monday throughout April. The event is well documented by Northwestern University Archives, with artifacts, press clippings and recordings from the event. Explore the Project Survival archives page, particularly the newly digitized recordings of the event, to experience a bit of this Northwestern history.

Learn more about Project Survival and follow our weekly updates on the sustainNU News page. New articles, activities, and opportunities will be added weekly. Check back for more!

Northwestern's Trees Provide Environmental, Emotional Benefits

Walking through the Weber Arch on the Evanston campus, you are instantly enveloped in the tree canopy. “Northwestern’s tree canopy is filled with, not only an amazing variety of trees, but some that predate the University itself,” said Steve Camburn, Grounds Supervisor. Through this article you can learn about our trees, their benefits, and then share your own tree stories on social media with the hashtags #NorthwesternsTrees or #NUEarthMonth2020. While we celebrated Arbor Day 2020 apart, we can still reflect on the role trees play in our Northwestern experience.

Earth Month Trivia Night

When: April 30th,  4:30 - 5:30 pm
Where: Zoom & Kahoot!
How: Register here!

Come to sustainNU's live Earth Month Trivia Night! Trivia questions will focus on topics including Resource Conservation, Alternative Transportation, Built Environment, Sustainability at Northwestern, Climate Change, and Nature & Wildlife. The top three participants will receive sustainNU prize packs including reusable items, gardening supplies, and sustainNU swag. Please pre-register as spots are limited to 200 people. If you want to practice testing your knowledge and get a leg up on the competition, check out sustainNU's Twitter and Instagram for weekday trivia questions. A portion of these questions will be included within the live trivia game!

Northwestern's Campus Ecochallenge

When: Challenge runs April 1 – 30  

Join Northwestern’s Earth Month 2020 Team! You don’t need to be on campus to take action to protect our planet this Earth Month. From April 1 through April 30, students, staff, and faculty are invited to participate in Northwestern’s Campus EcoChallenge. The Campus Ecochallenge is a fun and social way to take action on the issues you care about, connect with the Northwestern community, and compete to make the biggest impact!  You can make a difference through actions aimed at improving your community, energy use, food sustainability, health, connection to nature, lifestyle simplicity, and water conservation. The top three participants with the highest impacts at the end of the challenge will receive a prize! Stay tuned for more information. Rally your friends, mobilize your student group or office, and let’s see what kind of collective impact Northwestern can make this April!

Earth Month Gallery

When: Submissions eligible April 1 – 30 

Do you have a piece of art, research, poem, story, dance or project that is related to the environment or sustainability? Northwestern students, staff and faculty are creative, passionate and innovative, and sustainNU is excited to showcase your amazing projects.  Let’s share the ways we contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of our natural world. The gallery will go live on April 6 and be curated and updated weekly with new submissions, for  all to enjoy. Select projects will be highlighted in weekly newsletters and sustainNU’s social media feeds.

Submission guidance and eligibility: Any creative, scientific or personal project qualifies for this gallery if it relates to the environment, nature or sustainability in any way. Submissions are accepted anytime throughout April, but you are encouraged to submit them earlier in April to have your work featured in in our Earth Month newsletters and social media.
Examples of great submissions include, but are not limited to:

  • A short talk on your research on microgrid technology
  • A reading of your poem about the first time you saw redwood trees
  • You performing an interpretive dance about nature you choreographed 
  • Video showing your wildlife artwork with you explaining its significance
  • A how-to video teaching a sustainability related skill like gardening, recycling or creative reuse
  • A video tour of some of the sustainability features and actions you take in your home
  • You performing a song which was inspired by nature (original or otherwise) 

To qualify for submission, please create a video of your work, no more than 10 minutes in length, and upload it to YouTube. Then, complete this google form with a link to your video and some basic information about your submission. If you have any questions about the Earth Month Video Gallery project, please reach out to

sustainNU’s 2020 Earth Month Reading List  

When: April 1 – 30  

20 books to check out (virtually) this Earth Month! Our book recommendations feature books available for free online through local and Northwestern’s libraries and available for purchase to add to your home library. While we are staying indoors, now is the perfect time to pick up a new book to celebrate the beauty and history of our planet and learn about ways to protect the environment.  

Citizen Science Project Spotlights

When: New projects highlighted every Monday!

Become the researcher and help contribute to scientific study! Each week, sustainNU will highlight two research projects on biology, climate, history, nature, social sciences, and/or outer space.  

If you contribute to one of the projects, let us know on social media with the hashtag #NUEarthMonth2020. Check out all the projects here!  

Waste Matters: Webinar

When: View the recording here.

What's in Northwestern’s waste stream? How can we help take action to reduce what goes into the landfill? What even goes into the recycling bin and how can we help reduce our collective impact? Join sustainNU on April 14th for this one-hour webinar to dive into Northwestern’s waste stream and understand how we can keep things out of the landfill through recycling and reduction efforts. This webinar is specifically for staff and faculty as it covers academic and administrative buildings. Participants will be equipped with the knowledge to not only help Northwestern reach our sustainability goals, but also better understand how to reduce their own personal impact through a mini wastebasket audit.