Two NMU student organizations have paired up to put together a week of events to educate going green.
The Environmental Science Organization (ESO), a group that dedicates itself to raising awareness of a variety of environmental issues, and the Students for Sustainable Living (SFSL), a group that believes in promoting how to live sustainably, began collaborating with each other to put together the weeklong event they named “Down to Earth” week. This week includes a variety of events, including documentaries, workshops and lectures. It starts March 21 and ends on March 26. All events are free and open to the public.
Ginger Wojo, a senior environmental science major and president of ESO, said Melinda Otto, a senior environmental science major and president of SFSL, first approached her at the beginning of the fall semester.
“We knew that we wanted to do a week together and it all went down from there. We started having combined meetings for the end of the semester and figured out a name and everything and figured out what we wanted to do for the week,” said Wojo. “After that, the next semester, everything started coming together a little more.”
Wojo said there were problems with having the two groups work together.
“I think the only problem was getting everybody together… and trying to find a medium for everyone, because everyone has their own opinions on something,” said Wojo. “It was just really hard to figure out certain little details that normally wouldn’t take that long, because you have a smaller group of people.”
Despite the problems, Wojo says that it was nice to work with another group because it lessened the workload and will hopefully attract more people to the events.
“I would encourage other groups on campus that are similar to start doing things like this, because you can pull off a pretty good week if you get more people interested,” said Wojo.
Otto had similar ideas about having the two student groups work together.
“I think that SFSL and ESO have had different styles, and SFSL has been more relaxed about many things, and we tend to do things … ESO seems to be more studious,” Otto said. “I thought that combining the two groups would take the strengths from both groups and make something better.”
Otto is excited for the week’s events and passionate about the learning experience people can get from attending.
“I think the best way for people to change how they do things is to know the other options. I think a lot of people don’t know how to ferment foods that so they would go buy from the store, [or] they don’t know how to start a garden with permaculture soil building techniques so they would just buy fertilizer,” said Otto. “We’re just trying to inform people so they make better decisions.”
According to Otto, the biggest events of the week will happen on the evenings of March 21-23, starting with the documentary “Collapse.” The movie describes risks to the economy, the future of society, and what we can possibly do to stop the risks.
“The Future of Food,” another documentary, investigates the use of genetically modified foods, and how they came to be on market shelves for sale. It will also explain why so few people know about them and look at the complex web of market and influences on what people eat them.
Terry Swier, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, will come to Lecture Room B in the West Science building. According to Otto, Swier led the group in a fight against Nestle’s Ice Mountain waters when the company tried to drain more water from an already stressed river. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation were able to win and seal a large victory for the company.
“I think this is really powerful, especially considering what’s going on in our community right now with Eagle Rock and the mine,” said Otto. “Its kind of a parallel story, and I think it will be really inspiring.”
Several workshops will be led during the week. Green Cleaning, taught by student Drea Weiner, will teach attendees how to make healthier, and often cheaper, cleaning supplies.
“The average US household spends $600 a year on harsh cleaning chemicals. By making your own cleaning supplies at home, you can save $580 a year,” said Weiner, a senior environmental science major. “All it takes is just a little extra time to mix the ingredients together and a bit of elbow grease.”
Weiner says that, while she strongly believes that going green is important, it also makes her feel better.
“It takes away worries about whether it’s safe for my pets, or how I’m going to get that god-awful smell out of my apartment,” said Weiner. “It also could be fun. My roommate and I were experimenting ways to clean her fish tank. We got the fish tank clean, and it may have taken a while to get the right recipe, but we wound up having really good time.
Calendar of events for the week
Monday, March 21: Bow drilling workshop – Upstairs PEIF, 10 a.m.
“Collapse” documentary – Jamrich 102, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22: Lacto-fermentation workshop – Charcoal Room, noon
“The Future of Food” – documentary – Charcoal Room, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 23: Bio-sand filtration workshop – New Science 116, noon
Presentation by Terry Swier – West Science Lecture Room B, 6 p.m.
Thursday, March 24: Green Cleaning workshop – Huron Room, 1 p.m.
Grow your own air workshop – West Science 2812, 4 p.m.
Green innovations on TED talks – West Science 2904, 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 26: Vermi-composting workshop – Huron/Erie Room, noon
Permaculture soil building workshop – Huron/Erie Room, 2 p.m.