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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Earth Day: activities help NMU grow

Thursday, April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and to celebrate the holiday, the Environmental Science Organization (ESO) has sponsored a series of events such as the Environmental Fair on Wednesday, April 21.

The Environmental Fair took place in the basement of the Learning Resource Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and exhibited different booths from organizations at NMU and in the Marquette community.

The fair is part of a series of events the ESO is sponsoring to make up Earth Week at NMU. Among other presenters during the week were the Marquette Children’s Museum, the Nature Conservancy and environmental activist John Cronin.

John O’Bryan, the president of NMU’s Spirit Wheels and one of the presenters at the Environmental Fair spoke about composting and how to create a worm compost bin.

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John O’Bryan, an undeclared sophomore, helps maintain grass at this year’s Environmental Fair, which took place on Wednesday, April 21. The fair was one of several events taking place at NMU in honor of Earth Day. // James Dyer/NW

“Anyone can start (a worm farm) in their dorm room. It’s a great way to limit waste and live more sustainably,” O’Bryan said.

O’Bryan, an undeclared sophomore, said the goal of Spirit Wheels is to show students that becoming more sustainable can be a good way to save money as well as improve the environment.

“We want to look at ways to cut costs and become more sustainable at an institutional level. It’s all about realizing that everyone has an impact on the earth,” he said.

Among groups from NMU and the Marquette community who presented were the U.S. National Park Service, Greenpeace and Save the Wild U.P.

These presentations are meant to inform students of environmental issues and inspire them to become more active in improving the environment, said Zachary Bartel, the president of the ESO.

“We want to make students aware of what’s going on. We want to provide these organizations with a way to get the word out about local issues and inspire networking within the community,” Bartel said.

Many people associate environmentalism with negativity and sacrifice, but it is important also to see all of the opportunities for positive changes that becoming more sustainable can present, he said.

“I think that a lot of environmentalists preach a sort of gloom and doom message, and in the ESO, we try to use a more positive approach. We try to show students ways to think globally and act locally,” Bartel said.

The ESO will also be running an Earth Day campus cleanup on Thursday, April 22. Volunteers will meet in the academic mall at 11 a.m. and spread across campus to clean up the garbage that has accumulated on campus during the winter and has become uncovered as the snow has melted, Bartel said. Each volunteer will receive a voucher for a free lunch at Fiera’s restaurant.

Simple things like riding a bike or walking instead of driving and turning off the water while brushing your teeth can have a significant impact on the environment if enough people follow suit, said Professor Ronald Sundell, who is the faculty adviser of ESO.

“There are a lot of little things students can do to help. If everyone did their part, we could greatly improve the environment we live in,” Sundell said.

Sundell remembers the first Earth Day, and though the involvement in the holiday has waxed and waned over the years, he looks forward to a time when a holiday like Earth Day is no longer needed to promote environmental awareness.

“It’s good to have an Earth Day, but we need to make sure sustainable activities don’t stop at the end of the day,” he said. “It is the responsibility of each individual to follow through and make our planet more environmentally sustainable.”

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