Earth Day, Everyday

Tips on how to promote sustainability in your community this upcoming Earth Day.

Earth+Day%2C+Everyday

Liam Sheriff, Staff Writer

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thursday, April 22 will mark the annual celebration of International Earth Day. The holiday acts as a reminder for citizens everywhere to give back to their communities, their favorite natural areas and the planet they call home. Yet, as climate change runs rampant, and the world’s undisturbed natural lands disappear, does one day of Earthly recognition really make a difference in the future of the planet? Remic Ensweiler, the manager of COD’s prairie and natural areas, doesn’t think so. 

“We don’t do as much as we can, in my opinion, in the way of contributing to the health of the Earth,”  Ensweiler said. “I think we can do a lot more.” 

As the prairie manager at COD, Ensweiler is in charge of the ecological restoration of all natural areas on campus. In a typical year, Ensweiler would work with hundreds of student volunteers, community members and STEM students to facilitate workshops, restoration programs and work in the biology greenhouse. 

Volunteering is a quintessential way to give back on Earth Day. Volunteer programs and initiatives give people a chance to make lasting improvements to their community and on the planet. Over the course of the pandemic, however, Ensweiler and the college have been unable to work with volunteers on campus.

“I’d love to utilize [the students’] man and women power here,” Ensweiler explained. “We will as soon as we can, but we’re being very cautious.”

I’m definitely not the only one facilitating these sorts of things,” Ensweiler continued. “[Students] can definitely do their part locally even if it’s not right here on campus.”

Although students won’t be able to volunteer directly with COD this year, those looking to get their hands dirty can look no further than the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. The district is offering over 15 different volunteer events over the entirety of Earth Week. From April 19 to 24, environmental enthusiasts are able to aid in restoration projects, litter clean up, general beautification and invasive plant removal all across the forest preserve district. 

Kathleen Lech, the stewardship technician for natural resources at the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, and the coordinator for the environmental restoration volunteer workdays, said participation in the forest preserve workdays are very important this Earth Day. 

“I think Earth Day gives focus right back to the planet,” Lech explained. “We’re all here [on this planet]. It’s serving us as a place to live. We should be taking care of it. There’s so much that we’ve already done, so much to destroy it, that we can try to make small steps in the right direction [to repair it].”

Volunteering, however important, is not the only way to get involved this Earth Day. In fact, according to Lech, there are plenty of ways individuals can promote sustainability from the comfort of their own homes. 

“Do some research about what you can plant at home if you have a garden,” Lech said. “I know there’s plenty of litter pretty much everywhere. You can always do litter clean up around your neighborhood. Watch for the things that you’re buying. If you can’t recycle it, if you can, or if you could do things in a more practical way where you’re not using as many resources. The list goes on.”

Getting involved in activities like composting used organic materials, upcycling (the reuse and restoration of thrifted objects) and having an overall mindfulness of consumption habits is a great way to make a difference this upcoming Earth Day. However, in order to truly maximize environmental effectiveness, according to Ensweiler, these Earth Day activities need to become habitual practice 365 days out of the year. 

“Once you start getting into habits, they’ll become second nature,” Ensweiler explained. “Maybe it’s going to cost a little more. Maybe it’s going to take a little more time. Take that time. Pay that cost, and you’ll feel better because you’re doing your part, and the Earth will be happier too.”

“Everything starts with the students,” Ensweiler said. “The more support we can get from students to help along these Earth Day efforts, the more successful we will be [in protecting this planet].”

 

For more information on COD’s prairie and natural areas, visit: cod.edu/academics/programs/biology/natural_areas/prairie_tours.aspx

For more information on the DuPage County Forest Preserve Earth Week Volunteer Workdays, visit: dupageforest.org/news/news-releases/earth-week-volunteer