The University of Illinois at Chicago celebrated its 50th Earth Day in April, with the celebration taking place virtually.
The UIC Office of Planning, Sustainability, and Project Management hosted virtual events in April to support its Earth Day theme of “Plastic-Free UIC.” Students, faculty, and staff participated in a virtual cleanup through the Litterati app; helped develop zero-waste policies for their campus units, student groups, or residence halls; and wore red on April 22 for Earth Day to sound the alarm on the climate crisis.
“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 cleanup.”
UIC participated in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, when students voiced concerns about pollution. Since then, UIC has worked to avoid excess pollution and become a more environmentally friendly university.
Established in 2016, UIC’s Climate Commitments pledge called 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.
UIC has made several environmentally friendly enhancements. For example, it diverts 47% of its trash from the landfill by sending it for recycling and composting.
Amy Heldman, a junior in urban studies and Earth Day volunteer, said, “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.”
For more information, log on to https://sustainability.uic.edu/earthday2020/.