While the past weekend was filled with events celebrating Earth Day, this week holds even more opportunities to celebrate the planet.
The Center for Environmental and Urban Studies and Sustainable Works is having an open house Wednesday, April 21, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., where anyone can come and learn about its contributions and what they can contribute themselves. There is also an awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. during the open house where this year the board of trustees of Santa Monica College, which the center is a part of, will be honored. This is a change from the past where typically one staff member is honored.
“It’s going to be a big year,” said Genevieve Bertone, SMC sustainability coordinator.
The center is right across the street from the main campus on 1744 Pearl Ave. Samantha Sommer, community sustainability liaison for Santa Monica, said that 500 students a semester go through their green program. In return, she said that many teachers allow extra credit for the program.
SMC is also hosting an Earth Day Festival on Earth Day, April 22. There will be an open mic, performance art, vegetarian food and drinks, as well as educational activities. The educational activities will include a game show wheel, treasure hunt, eco-themed music, art, and a raffle for eco-prizes.
The festival will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the SMC quad. It is expected that there will be about 750 to 1,000 students and others participating in the event.
“It’s a great way for the whole community to really gather together and celebrate local accomplishments for a national movement,” Bertone said.
She explained that Earth Day is also a time to look at how SMC is doing with its carbon footprint and said that the celebration first began with the college’s environmental audit.
“We’re doing really well but we definitely need to do better,” Bertone said.
She added that the college has joined over 500 signatories as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, or ACUPCC.
On a national average among peer institutions, SMC is at less than half for their carbon footprint, with 1.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per student, where the national average is 3.1 metric tons.
At both of these events, there will be more information regarding how the school plans to improve and what they have done so far.
“The college has a really deep commitment to sustainability,” Bertone said. “I think it’s important the students understand the environmental issues and the impact their lives have on the environment.”
Community sustainability liaison Samantha Sommer agrees, and explained the mentality behind school involvement as so important “since their our future leaders.”
Sommer has led the Big Blue Bus Earth Day Poster contest. The annual contest, which began last year, has already become more popular. Last year there was 220 entries by about three schools, and this year there were close to 450 entries from nine different schools.
The contest is for students from K-12 who enter their uniquely designed poster aimed to raise awareness of a sustainability issue. There are four categories, separated by age groups, meaning there are four winners whose posters will be displayed for an entire month on the side of a Big Blue Bus beginning May 13. The celebration for the winners will also take place on May 13.
A Cash for Appliance Program, similar to Cash for Clunkers, is another sustainability event which begins on April 22 and lasts until May 23. Rebates for washers, refrigerators and A/C units will be available through the state. See www.cash4appliances.org for more details.
To celebrate the end of Earth Week, Sustainable Works is hosting a party at the Library Alehouse on April 27, which will have a drawing for prizes. Additionally, 15 percent of the day’s sales will be donated to the organization. The Library Alehouse is located at 2911 Main St.