It’s the time of year to give Mother Earth some love, and Earth Day is the perfect day to celebrate that love — with Lawrence University’s environmental club Greenfire this week and weekend.
“Earth Week is our large event that happens every year,” says Emily Wendorff, Greenfire co-president and junior. Wendorff, and co-president junior Isabel Dammann, have been working on Earth Week events that integrate the club’s presence on campus with its involvement in the community. “Earlier in the week we had a Fair Trade Bazaar with products from Globally Sound Fair Trade on College Avenue. It’s been great because I think a lot of people who wouldn’t have otherwise known about that store, or even fair trade in general, have been learning about that,” Wendorff says.
Spreading awareness of issues such as fair trade is exactly what Greenfire strives to do. “One of Greenfire’s main goals as a club is to bring environmental awareness to the Lawrence and Fox Valley community. Earth Day is an opportunity to get everyone involved and thinking about these issues,” Dammann says.
Environmental awareness may seem like a vague issue to be addressing, especially with so many facets to the goal of “saving the environment.” Wendorff explains, “we focus on sustainability as a whole — that can be from food justice to human rights to leaving a smaller carbon footprint.”
Working to combat such a comprehensive range of issues can be daunting, but the key is to start somewhere — whether it’s showing a documentary or doing volunteer work. “It seems small, but we’ve recently started having work days pulling non-native and invasive species on campus,” Wendorff says. “It’s better for the environment and allows Wisconsin’s native plants to thrive.”
In addition to running a club, Greenfire also has a house on campus and a co-op, like Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG). “To me, that means that Greenfire strives for holistic, environmentally conscious living on a day-to-day basis, from our recycling habits to the food we eat,” Dammann says.
Wendorff agrees that Greenfire has a distinct mission and purpose. “All of the co-ops on campus have slightly different focuses. We run a vegetarian co-op, and we buy local and organic products,” Wendorff explains. “Buying locally is a great way to engage with the community and find out about where our food comes from. And it’s sustainable for the environment as well as for the people who are growing it and the labor going into it.”
Being aware of what it means to be sustainable and getting your food in an environmentally conscious way is a lot of responsibility, but it’s a responsibility we should all strive to take on. “Greenfire helps me realize how difficult it is to live every day and be aware of my own impact, but it is also extremely important, because we don’t take our food and activities for granted,” Dammann says.
The culminating Earth Week event is the Earth Day Festival on Saturday. The festival brings together organizations across campus for Earth-related activities, food and live music. “The Earth Day Festival is a wonderful way to bring Lawrentians outside to enjoy the sunshine and fun, while also learning about and appreciating the earth,” Dammann says. “We set up on Main Hall Green so that members of the community can see what we’re doing. It’s a great way to meet people from Appleton,” Wendorff adds.
Don’t miss any of the exciting Earth Week events at Lawrence, including guest lecturer, conservationist Stan Temple, today at 4:30 p.m. in Steitz Hall, and the Earth Day Festival from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.
“Earth Day is an extremely important day that is often not recognized enough,” Dammann says. “Even the simplest activities make a difference if it gets more people thinking about their environmental impact.”
To find out more, visit Greenfire’s Facebook page.