April 22 is Earth Day.  Yes, that day when, in elementary school, you recognized the natural environment of our Earth by planting a tree.  Don’t get me wrong, planting a tree is nice.  It releases oxygen into the air, which we all need to survive.  The problem is, we’ve reached a point in our polluted world where we don’t have time to wait for that tree to grow.

Earth Day was started by a senator fromWisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, April 22, 1970.  It resulted in 20 million Americans peacefully demonstrating for environmental reform.  Earth Day is now celebrated by more than a half billion people in more than 175 countries annually.  It has certainly accomplished its mission of rallying enthusiasm for the environment and sustainability.  However, once that one day is over, what then?

Go ahead and plant your tree this coming Earth Day, but also remember to recycle, to avoid purchasing that daily bottled water, to switch all of your light bulbs to energy efficient ones and walk or bike to work instead of driving if you are able to.  Even better, make these changes permanent; don’t just do it on Earth Day.  We’ve reached a time in history where being an environmentally good citizen once a year isn’t enough.  The clock is ticking and time is running out.

During this past year, Lewis-Clark State College took on the task of making every day at LCSC Earth Day.  The Lewis-Clark Service Corps, LCSC’s Service-Learning and volunteer center, received the Northwest Sustainability Initiative from Washington Campus Compact.  It’s a grant that provides $15,000 per year for three years to be put toward sustainability-related projects and promotions.

Since receiving this grant, a Sustainability Action Team (SAT) was formed consisting of LCSC faculty, staff and students.  This team’s job is to find ways to make LCSC a ‘greener’ campus.  This ranges from creating more opportunities for recycling on campus to, in the future, potentially installing solar panels and green roofs, with the goal of cutting carbon emissions. Projects already implemented include planting a xeriscape garden (garden requiring minimal irrigation) on campus and setting aside a plot of campus land for a learning garden, which is scheduled to be planted next spring.

This brings us back to Earth Day.  In the past, LCSC students usually participated in an environmentally-related service project like a creek clean-up.  That’s still going to happen; however, LCSC’s Earth Day Celebration this year will also provide opportunities for folks on campus and in the surrounding community to learn how to live more sustainably in their everyday lives.

Outside the SUB facing the Sam Glenn Complex there will be booths providing information on sustainability and LCSC’s initiative, sustainability-related games with prizes that include energy efficient light bulbs, reusable shopping bags and t-shirts with LCSC’s sustainability logo printed on them. Inside the SUB student volunteers will be serving as ‘recycling police’ and making sure diners recycle and recycle properly.  Dan Johnson, Solid Waste Manager for the City ofLewiston, will be a guest speaker for a Thinking-Through Lunch session, which is open to the public.  He’ll be speaking and answering questions about waste management and recycling.

LCSC has a long way to go before it can start calling itself a “green” campus, but it’s taken the first step.  Grant money helps, but it’s now up to students, faculty, staff and community members to make sure this doesn’t just become a casual stroll in the right direction but a speed walk straight ahead toward ‘greening’ this campus and this community. 

To learn more about LCSC’s Earth Day activities and ways to help the environment year round, contact Lindsey Davies, the LCSC Service Learning Coordinator, lldavies@lcsc.edu, 208-792-2740.