AAU students and clubs banded together to celebrate Earth Day on Monday 22 April with activities varying from a swap event and crafting to taking a stance against unethical business practices.

Students Against Violence Club partnered with Fashion Club to organize a thrifting event where everything left over was donated and with Writing Club for nature-themed blackout poetry repurposing old magazines. Many students spent time in the gardens, appreciating nature despite the colder weather which made Yoga in the Park unfeasible. 

“We wanted to have sustainable activities and good vibes on Earth Day to give people a space to have some fun and relaxation in the midst of the last weeks of the semester,” said Students Against Violence President Hannah Schermer.

Photo by: Ela Angevine

The weeks around Earth Day are a busy time for the AAU community, so they might not have plans to celebrate. But as the holiday becomes more commercialized, numerous students feel it is important to take a step back from daily life to spend time with nature, said participants. 

“I would love to go to a park and enjoy nature…maybe clean something in the park,” said Abdulmohaimen Hussein, a previous member of the AAU Earth Lovers Club that disbanded when the president graduated.

Students found their own ways to celebrate Earth Day outside of school. For example, Humanities major Isabella Melendrez protested to demand that businesses, like IKEA, apply ethical and sustainable business practices like cleaning up their supply chains.  

“I am volunteering with GreenPeace, so we are doing a lot of campaigns: the big one is IKEA right now to save nature and old-growth forests,” said Melendrez, who also wants AAU to take more action to protect the environment, such as a specific recycling bin for copier paper, as many professors print “so many outlines.”

Photo by: Ela Angevine

While the school and Student Council did not plan any events, they fully supported SAV’s festival to celebrate the planet. AAU has broader environmental goals indicated in the sustainability pillar of their Strategic Plan for the 2021-2026 period, according to Vice-President for Enrolment and Communications Jeta Sahatqija. 

AAU’s environmental initiatives integrate sustainability in the curriculum—like in the ‘Sustainability and Innovation Management course—or challenge staff and faculty to Bike to Work instead of driving, for example, according to Sahatqija. 

However, the Facilities and Operations manager Marharyta Tykhonovych commented that one problem we face as a school community is not properly sorting waste.

“The operations team had the initiative to change the plastic cups to paper,” said Tykhonovych. “We had a trial period of two weeks with the paper cups, and it also did not go well; the waste from the water fountains, mostly, was not sorted either.”

While there is no currently active environmental club, protecting and learning about our planet is important for many AAU students and faculty. There is still a lot that can be done to increase sustainability on campus, but community awareness is the first step.