UT’s Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with the Student Government Association’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee, is raising awareness about consumption habits by hosting its first Campus Bagless Day on Earth Day, Friday, April 22.
VolShop and UT Dining locations across campus will not offer plastic bags all day. In 2013, plastics accounted for nearly 13 percent of trash before recycling, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“Plastic bags may be small in size, but they have a big impact in our wallets, our atmosphere, our oceans, and our landscapes,” said Don Black, a sophomore in civil engineering and co-director of the SGA Environmental and Sustainability Committee. “If we try going without them for a day, I think pretty soon we will realize that we never really needed them at all.”
Additionally, VolShop will offer 20 percent off tumblers, mugs, and water bottles in the Student Union, University Commons, and 17th and Cumberland store locations and online to promote the Mug Project. This campus-wide initiative to eliminate single-use containers and bottles allows reusable mug users to get ninety-nine-cent coffees and fountain beverages and 15 percent off specialty coffee beverages at campus dining locations.
UT Recycling and the Office of Sustainability promote waste reduction efforts throughout the year with other initiatives including campus recycling, composting, food donation, and Zero Waste Game Day, which works to eliminate at least 90 percent of waste created during athletic events through recycling and composting.
“We are thrilled to support the SGA in their initiative by hosting this new event and bringing awareness to the issue of waste reduction,” said Preston Jacobsen, campus sustainability manager. “It is exciting to see partners on campus willing to join in on the event and support sustainable issues on our campus.”
Earth Month begins Friday, April 1. Events, activities, and programs promoting the work the university does year-round to Make Orange Green will include:
Big Green Friday
Putting an environmental twist on the Big Orange Friday tradition, the second annual Big Green Friday on Friday, April 1, will kick off Earth Month. Members of the campus community are encouraged to wear green and stop by the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for food, games, and giveaways.
Earth Month Celebration
The Earth Month celebration will offer food, live music, environmentally focused organizations from the UT and Knoxville communities, and the annual Recyclimpics games. The event will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, April 7, on the Humanities and Social Sciences Amphitheater lawn.
Earth Month Scavenger Hunt
The Office of Sustainability will host the first Earth Month Scavenger Hunt from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Thursday, April 14. Teams of three will compete by looking for points on campus that represent environmental projects and programs, including UT’s Stormwater Management, Arboriculture, and Recycling. Teams can register online.
Sustainability Day of Service
Students can volunteer with agencies that promote environmental awareness, sustainability, conservation, and recycling during the third annual Sustainability Day of Service. The event will be held from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 15.
UT Recycling’s SUSTAINABILITY Spring Art Show
UT Recycling will host a spring art show featuring an array of artists and media, all with an environmental or waste theme. The event is from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. Friday, April 15, at Fluorescent Gallery, 627 N. Central Street, and will include live music and refreshments.
Environmental Leadership Luncheon
The annual Environmental Leadership Award Luncheon will take place at the UT Gardens brick patio from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Earth Day, Friday, April 22. The free lunch will offer networking opportunities with other environmentally friendly students, faculty, and staff, in addition to the award ceremony for environmental leaders on campus and within the community. A reservation is required.
Katherine Saxon (email@example.com, 865-974-8365)