Earth week increases sustainability efforts

Kailey Bates, Staff Writer

Last week, students showed support for Mother Earth in a number of ways.

April 17 marked the first day of UVM’s annual Earth Week.

Dozens of groups organized events all week long that shed light on environmental issues that affect us all.

Sophomore Madeline Joslin stood behind a table April 17 in the Davis Center Atrium wearing her Eco-Reps T-shirt and spoke with students on the dangers of fossil fuels, persuading them to sign a petition to get Build Your Dreams’ first electric transit bus running on campus.

“The investment for the bus would pay off in the long run,” Joslin said. “It would run for 12 years and save UVM $50,000 — and it wouldn’t be polluting our environment.”

Later that day, UVM celebrated achieving the Real Food Challenge three years early.

In 2012, UVM signed the Real Food Campus Commitment in an effort to have 20 percent of food on campus be considered “real food” by 2020.

Food is considered real if it meets one of the four standards set by the RFC: it must be local, ecologically sound, fairly traded or humane.

Alana Chriest, a member of the Real Food Working Group, called Sodexo a progressive company and a very strong partner.

“They wanted to work with our group and the UVM Food Initiative to achieve this phenomenal goal,” Chriest said. “Because of that, we have met the challenge three years prior to 2020.”

UVM recently signed a contract with the goal to get 25 percent real food on campus by 2020.

The state of our food doesn’t only depend on how local farmers decide to grow it, but largely on the bee population — the pollinators that give life to the array of fruits and vegetables all creatures need.

Junior Peter Chlebowski, president of the club UVM Beekeepers, was recently awarded the UVM Environmental Citizens Award for his work on the club.

“I decided to create the club in March of 2016 with the help of my advisor, Mark Starrett,” Chlebowski said. “This year, we got hives donated to the Horticulture Farm. We’ll be transporting them to the meadow in front of the Catholic Center this summer.”

Chlebowski has been trying to get people to understand that it’s not just honeybees that are important to the environment.

“There are over 50 native species of bees in Vermont. They are all very intertwined with our food systems,” he said. “Support pollinators by supporting the habitat — let the flowers grow!”

Junior Connor Brustofski, managing designer for Headwaters Magazine, UVM’s first student-run environmental publication, had last semester’s issue on display in the Davis Center, its cover-story being on the state of bees in today’s environment.

“The magazine was created to bring these issues to a wider audience than just environmental majors,” Connor said.

Senior James Biddle, a forestry major with a passion for trees, praised Earthweek for its creativity.

“Every year it gets better and better. I’m excited about the events this coming week,” he said.