Virtual Earth Day events promote ‘Plastic-Free UIC’

UIC is celebrating its 50th Earth Day this month, but this year, the celebration will take place virtually.

The Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management is hosting virtual events in April to support its Earth Day theme of “Plastic-Free UIC.” Students, faculty and staff can participate in a virtual “clean up” through the Litterati app; develop zero-waste policies for their campus units, student groups or residence halls; wear red on April 22 for Earth Day to sound the alarm on the climate crisis, and more.

“When we asked UIC students, faculty, and staff what they wanted to do for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, over half of the suggestions we received were related to reducing the amount of waste our campus produces,” said Lisa Sanzenbacher, assistant director of sustainability programs. “I think that illustrates just how important our zero waste climate commitment is to the UIC community, and it has been great to be able to maintain some of our original plans by transitioning to a virtual clean up,”

UIC’s first Earth Day celebration took place in 1970, when students voiced their concerns about pollution. Since then, UIC has made great efforts to not only avoid excess pollution outputs, but also to become a more environmentally friendly university as a whole.

Established in 2016, UIC’s Climate Commitments pledge for the university to become a carbon neutral campus by 2050, in addition to becoming a zero waste, net zero water and biodiverse campus. UIC’s Climate Action Implementation Plan outlines solutions the campus can implement by 2028.

There are several ways UIC has made environmentally friendly enhancements; for example, 47% of UIC’s trash is diverted from the landfill and sent to recycling and composting.

Amy Heldman, a junior in urban studies, plans to volunteer this month for Earth Day.

“Even with the global pandemic crisis at hand, we cannot forget about our environmental needs. Especially this being the 50th Earth Day celebration, I think it’s important we all still try to do our part while social distancing,” she said.

To volunteer or for more information, visit UIC’s Earth Day website.   

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