Story posted April 30, 2012
How do Polar Bears celebrate Earth Day? This year, Bowdoin students sorted through trash in the spring Trash Audit and volunteered on local farms for Eco Service Day to commemorate the weekend of Earth Day 2012.
On Friday, April 20 the Bowdoin EcoReps hosted a trash audit to see what recyclables people might still be tossing in the garbage. Understanding this information helps the EcoRep team determine where to focus their educational efforts. For example, at the fall trash audit they discovered that people weren't getting the message about recycling materials from Dining's bag lunch offerings. After the fall trash audit the 16 EcoReps went into overdrive thinking up clever ways to get that message across. This time around there were far fewer bag lunch items in the trash - a good sign - but there was still room for improvement. Of the five dorms audited, the amount of recyclable material (by weight) that was in the garbage ranged from as much as 31% to as little as 7% (Yeah West Hall!). Not sure what can be recycled? Check out the zero sort posters around campus and on Sustainable Bowdoin’s website. Or, ask your EcoRep!
The “Trashbusters” (dressed in lab coats and gloves) who did the trash sorting and weighing agreed that even though the job was dirty, it was a lot of fun. The focus of the event was to discourage excess waste, but the trash audit wasn’t all garbage. Other highlights included a solar oven baking chocolate chip cookies and a tie-dye station for shirts and reusable Express-lunch bags. Also in attendance was the Yellow Bike Club, whose members offered free bicycle tune-ups.
Eco Service Day
The next day, Bowdoin’s annual Eco Service Day saw student volunteers spread themselves all over the greater Brunswick community to help with spring chores on five farms. Over fifty students split into teams to work at Two Coves Farm, Milkweed Farm, Morris Farm, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, and the Bowdoin Organic Garden. Armed with rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows, volunteers built fences, planted seedlings, cleared out leaves and brush, painted signs, and tilled up soil.
A single day of work may sound trivial, but thanks to the student’s work the farms were able to jump-start their spring season. Marielle Matthews, the assistant at the Bowdoin Organic Garden, explained that since the Saturday crew cleaned up the South Street plot she was able to rototill both plots near Osher and West Hall. “So far we have arugula in the ground, with radishes, mustard greens, cut lettuce mix, rhubarb, and some other goodies on the way to be put in later this month,” she told Sustainable Bowdoin.
Whether planting seeds or sorting recyclables, Bowdoin students took full advantage of the past weekend to commemorate Earth Day.
See the weekend’s photo albums on Sustainable Bowdoin’s Facebook page.