By Brooklyn Draisey
The University of Iowa Environmental Coalition is celebrating Earth Month by encouraging the community to get involved in saving the Earth.
Throughout April, the Environmental Coalition will put on different events to get students involved in environmentalism and sustainability.
Today’s event is a reusable bag exchange. People are encouraged to bring their plastic bags to the Pedestrian Mall from 10 a.m. to noon and exchange them fpr reusable bags made by the 100 Grannies, a group of women whose mission is to educate and advocate for a healthy environment for future generations.
100 Grannies member Becky Ross said the group has collaborated with the Environmental Coalition in the past for the event. The women provide reusable bags and the materials for pe ple to make their own if they want, and the plastics bags will be donated to the North Liberty Community Pantry.
“Not many people think about plastic bags; it seems like a trivial thing, but plastic never biodegrades, it just stays plastic forever …” she said. “We decided that this was something we could work on here.”
Environmental Coalition Co-President Eden DeWald said this is one of the many traditional events the group hosts throughout Earth Month. Another is the Earth Month benefit concert on April 28. The money raised from the concert, which will feature Paperback Rhino, Elly Hofmaier, and Glass Femur, will go to the Bur Oak Land Trust. Last year the proceeds went to Hickory Hill Park.
One event that spans the entire month is the treasure trade. Donation boxes are put around campus for students to donate gently used clothes and shoes, then at the end of the month, the Environmental Coalition puts on a pop-up thrift shop on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway for students to pick out items for free.
“It’s a great opportunity to show students that reusing items is a great way to first of all get exactly what you need and reduce stigma around it …” DeWald said. “Clothing that is used is just as good as anything you would buy new or off the rack.”
A new event this year is Pipeline Poetry, a night of performance art focused on environmental justice. On April 15, participants will perform either others’ work or their own, and it can be poetry, song, or dance, among other things. The proceeds will go toward the Makwa Initiative Camp fund. The Makwa Initiative is a group of water protectors in Cloquet, Minnesota, where an oil pipeline is scheduled to be constructed.
“Environmentalism and sustainability isn’t just about recycling, it’s about diversity and the arts, and it can be expressed and communicated in many different ways,” DeWald said.
Environmental Coalition Social Executive Clarissa Dietz, who organized the reusable-bag exchange, said it’s one of her favorite events because it gets the group off campus and into the larger community. Working as a group to help the environment will help more than the mentality that people can only help on their own, she said.
“As a movement, environmentalism has kind of fallen into the trap of individual responsibility and lifestyle choices, but at the same time, you can’t undersell the value of doing Earth Month events and bringing this to the forefront of everyone’s minds,” Dietz said.