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UWRF celebrates ways to go green

April 21, 2011

There are signs of UW-River Falls’ year-long commitment to sustainability all over campus, but Earth Day holds a special meaning, especially for residents of Wisconsin.

According to the UWRF Sustainability 2011 Earth Week website there are many ways people can celebrate Earth Day in River Falls. On Friday night, binGO GREEN will take place at 8 p.m. in Pete’s Creek in the lower level of the University Center, where the prizes to win will be locally made and sustainable.

On Monday, Earth Week at UWRF will conclude with the showing of “Tapped”, a film about the bottled water industry and its contribution to ecological problems, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kinnickinnic River Theatre in the UC.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Earth Day even if it’s not at one of the scheduled events or on the specific day, said Kelly Cain, director of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development.

“The quality of the environment is ultimately the quality of our lives over the long haul,” Cain said, “ and just having one day to at least call that connection back to mind is critical, even though there is no better line than ‘Every day is Earth Day’.”

Choral Music Education Major Stephanie Bijoch said she is looking forward to connecting with the environment in her own way for Earth Day this year.

“Sometimes when it’s nice out, the chamber singers rehearse outside,” Bijoch added, “So I’m hoping for good weather so I can get outside and sing while taking in the beauty of nature around me.”

According to the Earth Day Network’s website, Earth Day is the largest secular celebration in the world, with more than 1 billion people participating each year. This year, more than 96 million have made an online pledge to celebrate Earth Day with an “Act of Green”.

According to the Earth Day Network, Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson. Nelson noticed that the anti-war rallies of the 1960s had a profound moving effect on people across the nation. He thought the same tactics could be used to get people’s attention, and get environmental issues to the forefront of political discussion. His idea worked, and that year 20 million people in the United States rallied to celebrate the first Earth Day.

At UWRF, sustainability takes a role in all aspects of the campus throughout the year. For 2011, UWRF received an “A-“ rating from the College Sustainability Report Card, according to its website. The College Sustainability Report card is the only independent evaluator of sustainability of colleges in the United States and Canada.

UWRF received A’s in the administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, and student involvement categories of the report. The University received a B in the green building category and a C in the transportation category.

Cain said he believes that UWRF is doing very well at reaching its sustainability goals.

“We’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 20 percent in the last three years, which is a phenomenal pace,” Cain said.

Cain said that transportation is the University’s biggest sustainability challenge to overcome, because of the high amount of commuter students. He said there is a rideshare program available called Zimride that would greatly help increase UWRF’s College Report Card grade.

“Carpooling and Zimride present a phenomenal opportunity for us to move forward, and give us a very strong shot at an overall “A” on a national basis, which would be a huge achievement,” he said.

At the April 19 Student Senate meeting, the Student Senate declined support of a three-year contract with Zimride, stating their decision was based on student safety concern.

Cain said that even for those who cannot actively get out and participate in an Earth Day event, it is important to recognize the environmental issues in the world.

“At a minimum,” Cain added, “Take a little time to reflect.”