People have been celebrating Earth Day for more than five decades. In Auburn, the Office of Sustainability has been making efforts to celebrate the event since its inception in 2008.
“At the time, in 1970, Earth Day was the largest demonstration in American history,” said Mike Kensler, director of the Office of Sustainability. “There were 20 million people just in the United States.
Its role is to help people improve the natural world and our community.
“It was to help people understand the issues and then take action, and we’ve come to understand that so many things are interconnected,” Kensler said.
Something that aided this demonstration was the first lunar trip, as it helped people contextualize the world they live in.
“No one had ever seen anything like this, and no one had any idea what the Earth looked like, and after seeing what it looked like from this lunar trip, they thought, ‘Wow, it is so beautiful and precious, yet incredibly small and vulnerable,’” Kensler said.
In 2020, the Office of Sustainability had a number of events planned for the celebration of the 50th year of Earth Day, but COVID-19 forced them to cancel their plans.
However, this year the office is able to put on its Earth Day Extravaganza, where students can interact with sustainable living habits through the activities, education and food featured at the event.
Earth Day Extravaganza will be hosted by The Waste Reduction and Recycling Department, the Office of Sustainability, The Department of Geosciences and UPC.
There will be crafts, puzzles, succulents and a drone at the event. This event will be held on campus, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22. The event aims to help students have the knowledge and tools to live sustainably.
“We can create a flourishing world if we can summon the world to do it,” Kensler said.
One tool the Office of Sustainability uses is the Compass of Sustainability. The compass was created in the 2000s and is used across the world. It is divided into four systems that each represent a system conditioned for sustainability.
The four systems of the compass include nature, economy, society and well being.
“In these points, you can ask yourself, ‘What’s the state of the natural world for which we all depend?’, ‘Do we have a healthy economy that includes everybody?’, ‘Do we have healthy communities and a thriving society?’, and ‘Do we have individual well being?’” Kensler said.
The Office of Sustainability works with faculty, students, student groups and Student Affairs to educate them on these things.
“If you think about the last line of the Auburn Creed, what’s that look like in practice?” Kensler said. The last line of the creed reads, “I believe in Auburn and love it.”
With this in mind, the office is partnering with the University architect, the campus planner and faculty experts to see how people can intentionally design the future in a way that’s more people-friendly.
“It’s really inspiring and sobering at the same time, and if we can keep that perspective in mind, I think we will behave much differently toward each other and the planet we live on,” Kensler said.
The office also offers a monthly newsletter that they send out in order to spread awareness. They hold at least one event a month with some events including expert speakers.
“As an office, as far as we’re concerned, every day is Earth Day,” Kensler said.
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Virginia Shea, sophomore in pre-public relations, is a culture writer at The Auburn Plainsman.