BC celebrates Earth Week

April 22 marks the 45th anniversary for Earth Day, which was started by Gaylord Nelson, a former Senator from Wisconsin. Earth Day has evolved into a worldwide movement, citizens not only throughout the United States but also throughout the world celebrate this day.

Patrick Green, Director of BC’s Office of Sustainability said, “Earth Week is our opportunity to explore both new and old ways of thinking so we can be better stewards of the systems, processes and resources that sustain us.”

Earth Week speaker - c
Lisa Harris discusses the culture of overwork in the US and the impact on the environment

Earth Week began as a student initiative in 2000, and is still carried on by the students and staff. Furthermore in 2007, it was also the students who applied for the Student Environmental Sustainability Fund, which supports various sustainability and environmentally friendly efforts around BC. Green explained, “students are the ones who drive the demand for a just and sustainable community – on our campus, in our community and around the globe.”

This year, the Office of Sustainability, with the help of different student programs and clubs,  packed a week with events relevant to Earth Week. BC kicked off Earth Week with the “Would You Buy That?” game show, hosted by  BC faculty member and chemistry professor Rick Glover. In the show, students were taught the importance of knowing what chemicals are in everyday items that we use in our homes.  “The game show was just looking at the greater impacts of consumerism. When people purchase things they don’t necessarily understand what the impacts are because we’re pretty removed from our supply chain,” explained Glover. Items discussed at the game show ranged from smartphones to almond butter, and Glover said “the materials that we buy often have huge environmental implications.”

One of the products that they educated students about was K-Cups, which are used for coffee. Glover explained the impact of the cups, saying, “As Seattle exports all of its solid waste to eastern Oregon it is important to be conscious about what we throw away. Enough K-cups were thrown away in 2013 to circle the earth 10.5 times.” In addition to the game show, there were a number of activities available for students and staff alike all week.

Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, or DRCC, B.J. Cummings, partnered with Bellevue College to educate students about natural and social history through the Duwamish River. Bellevue College also hosted a farmers market where local vendors brought their produce and the student-run Garden Club sold various vegetables and herbs.

Aside from the weeklong Earth Day events dedicated to education and sustainability, the Office of Sustainability also celebrated the students and staff who work to keep their carbon footprint minimal. The Office of Sustainability put out a cyclists’ survey for students and staff who commute to and from BC by bicycle. Their responses were used to help improve the safety, ease and enjoyment of commuting to campus by bike. As a reward for completing the survey and commuting by bike, each respondent received a free tire patch kit.

Although Earth Week has come to an end, students plan on continuing their efforts to keep the BC campus and Bellevue community clean and environmentally safe. The Office of Sustainability hopes more students, faculty and staff will work to decrease their carbon footprint and work towards their sustainability goals.

Additionally, with the 2014-2015 school year soon coming to an end, the Office of Sustainability is accepting applications for three year-long positions for students who wish to carry on the tradition of Earth Week. The positions include the Resource Center Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and Transportation Coordinator. Applications can be found in the Student Programs office at C212 or online at www.bellevuecollege.edu/sustainability/. Applications are due by May 19, 2015 at 5 p.m.