by Kevin Dicciani
Chestnut Hill College recently celebrated Earth Week with activities, events, and giveaways, all of which were devoted to raising awareness for endangered species and environmental protection.
The festivities, which ran from Apr. 23 to Apr. 27, featured an ecological film fest, an earth-themed event at the Market at the Fareway, an electronics recycling collection, and a bevy of giveaways. The weeklong celebration was organized by the College’s Earth Center and co-sponsored by the Barnes and Noble Bookstore at CHC.
Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ, the director of the Earth Center and the assistant to the president for sustainability, said that observing Earth Day each year reflects the College’s mission and core values.
“Our precious Planet Earth cries for our attention, especially as a college whose vision includes care for creation,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. “We are compelled to respond.”
The global theme of Earth Day 2019 was “Protect Our Species.” The goal of this year’s global campaign revolved around raising awareness for endangered species and highlighting the causes and repercussions of certain species going extinct. Further, it sought to achieve policy change to safeguard individual and broad groups of species and their habitats.
The eco film fest, held in the West Dining Room and organized by Keely McCarthy, Ph.D., associate professor of English, screened several documentaries related to a variety of environmental subjects, from global warming to the destruction plastic is wreaking on oceans and wildlife. The Academy Award-winning documentary “Time to Choose: Climate Change for Good” was screened by biology professor Robert Meyer, Ph.D.
Also on display throughout the cafeteria were 10 illustrations, created by CHC art students, that showcased a different extinct species.
The celebration continued on Wednesday evening at the Market at the Fareway in Chestnut Hill at the school’s weekly College Night event. The DJ, Eddie Caiazzo ’08, played a steady rotation of Earth, Wind & Fire along with songs that either directly referenced the earth or subtly paid tribute to it. Between songs, Caiazzo recited interesting facts about Earth, and the College gave away tote bags to support environmental sustainability.
On Friday and Saturday the College held an electronics recycling collection on campus. Safely recycling electronics conserves natural resources and prevents hazardous materials from polluting the air and water. The reuse of materials present in electronical equipment also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the need to manufacture new electronics.
The College celebrates Earth Day, or Earth Week, each year on or around April 22, the worldwide day of observance. The inaugural celebration first took place in 1970, and today events commemorating the day are held in almost every country in the world.
Throughout the years the College has taken on numerous initiatives to decrease its environmental impact and help Earth become a more sustainable planet for the benefit of future generations. The College, for example, has held four sustainability conferences on its SugarLoaf campus for colleges and universities in the Delaware River Basin. Through Aramark, the College has replaced toxic cleaning fluids with oxidized water for use in housekeeping. New water fountains with filling stations were installed around campus in an effort to eliminate the usage of plastic water bottles. Students have spearheaded various projects, too, once initiating an athletic shoe collection that yielded more than 500 pair of shoes that were then donated to create a playground.
This year’s Earth Week saw Chestnut Hill College fulfill its mission to promote ways of living in harmony with all of creation, and it couldn’t have done so without its community. Anyone interested in learning more or getting involved in this endeavor should stop by the Earth Center and pay a visit to Sister Mary Elizabeth. It’s only through a sustained, concerted effort that the College can continue striving toward its goal of making the earth a better place for all living creatures, a goal that, if last week’s events are any indication, is well within reach.