Earth Week 2012: Leaving a smaller footprint

The month of April was a whirlwind of events that brought students, faculty and staff from the University of Northern Iowa together, united by a common cause: the protection of planet Earth. Here's a look back at the month that was:

"We all have the ability to leave a

smaller footprint on campus and

in the community."

-Kara Poppe, UNI sophomore

Events throughout the month of April were specifically planned to involve the campus     community in environmental action. The UNI community, along with more than 1 billion  people in 190 countries, rallied together to not only celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but  also educate others on the importance of keeping our planet clean and safe.

"I view this as a time of celebration of what we have accomplished, an opportunity to raise awareness, and a fun time to get people involved in a number of worthwhile projects," said Eric O'Brien, UNI's sustainability coordinator.

Activities that included a bike ride throughout miles of Cedar Falls' trails, a film screening of "The Clean Bin Project" and a fun run on area soft trails through UNI prairie was the beginning of UNI's Earth Week celebrations and awareness.

Wetland Cleanup

A group of UNI students, faculty and staff spent a weekday afternoon cleaning up the wetland areas along Hudson Road in Cedar Falls. Eight 55-gallon bags of garbage were collected, and from that, they were able to sort out two bags of recyclables.

Wetland Cleanup
 UNI students participate in a wetland cleanup, one of
many activities planned throughout April to celebrate
Earth Week.

"People don't think about the impact trash and littering have on our environment until an event is organized to recognize these actions," said Scotti Schon, a UNI senior majoring in communications/public relations. "Earth Week activities have the opportunity to spark a small change--taking one afternoon to clean the wetland causes those involved to reconsider their daily habits and realize the same effort is put in throwing your trash on the ground as it is spent in taking it to the trash or recycling bin."

Earth Day Celebration

This year's Earth Day celebration had 32 educational booths and received more than 600 curious students, faculty and staff. Participants got to visit the booths, get a free bike tune-up, take part in the "Make and Take" student area with green cleaning products and more.

Sustainability Update

The sustainability update was a great way to recognize the ongoing sustainability efforts on campus and reflect on what the future holds. Success stories from "The Reusables," Brian Hoyer, Recycle Rite owner and UNI alum, and Bill Stigliani, professor of environmental science, showed how individuals and groups on campus have made a difference.

The event also recognized the efforts of students, faculty and staff who have made UNI a more sustainable campus with the C.A.R.E. Awards.

C.A.R.E Award Winners

  • Volunteer Tuesdays

  • Bill Stigliani, Catherine Zeman and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi    

  • Spencer Walrath

  • Susan Salterberg

  • Northern Iowa Energy Corps.

UNI Student Clothing Exchange

UNI's first clothing exchange - Reuse, Revamp, Rewear - saw more than 50 participants swap close to 400 items. Hundreds of other items were donated to the House of Hope and Goodwill.

"UNI's first clothing exchange was a fun event that was extremely successful," said Kara Poppe, a UNI sophomore majoring in geography. "Students were excited to clean out their closets and bring new items home for free."

"I think it’s important to understand that we can all do something to make our campus and community more sustainable," said O'Brien. "Campus community members including students, faculty and staff from across UNI are beginning to realize that many of the projects we are working on not only make the campus more pleasant to live and work in, but they also create a more efficient campus and can save money."

Check out the This is UNI photo galleries for more Earth Week images.