A chalkboard with "what are you doing to be more sustainable?" written on it.
Arts & Life, Events

Earth Week begins with a festival focused on sustainability

The smell of fresh flowers permeated the air and vibrant hues of green provided a feast for the eyes. Students gathered at the Earth Week Kickoff on Monday for a chance to learn more about the planet we call home and how to take better care of it.

Associated Students Inc. celebrated Earth Day, and kicked off a weeklong series of related events, on the southwest terrace of the University Student Union.

BeachPride Events, who organized the festival, featured an array of booths that covered topics including the consequences of fast fashion, the importance of beach clean-ups and “eating green.”

Javier Gonzalez, an international studies major and program assistant at BeachPride events, said it was his first time organizing an event for Earth Week.

“Looking at California weather recently, obviously climate change is real,” Gonzalez said. “There’s a lot of policies that aren’t really being implemented, so the point of Earth Week is to make people aware of what’s happening around them.”

The Environmental Science & Policy Club’s booth focused on how consumerism and fast fashion are harmful to our environment.

Vice president of the Environmental Science & Policy Club, Lisa Maurens-Laurens, spoke at length about the role thrift shopping plays in an Earth conscious lifestyle.

“I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is just get people to think that, in terms of thrifting, something old to someone can be new to someone else,” Maurens-Laurens said. “We shouldn’t throw out our clothes.”

Kristen Way, ES&P Club treasurer, agreed.

“Clothes can be repurposed and I don’t think we really think about that,” Way said.

The Long Beach Sustainability Project hosted a booth where students could create flower crowns from various invasive species in the Long Beach area, including chrysanthemums and brazilian peppers.

Diana Hazas, an intern at the Long Beach Office of Sustainability, said the booth is part of a larger story concerning local wetlands that suffered under previous ownership.

“We have an ecological restoration site that we’re trying to turn into a wetland, back to its native habitat,” Hazas said. “For a while, it was owned by oil companies.”

As students worked away on their chrysanthemum crowns, Hazas elaborated on the purpose of their project.

“Normally we weed [the invasive species] and compost them, but today we decided to bring them here and have people make wreaths or take them home and reuse them so they won’t be wasted,” Hazas said.

Once students finished with their flower crowns and thrift shopping, they could grab a free scoop of ice cream, served in a compostable cup.

According to Gonzalez, he couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout. He wants students to walk away with more knowledge about the environment and what they should do to protect it.

“I hope they get a better understanding of what it means to live sustainably, and I hope they also have fun,” Gonzalez said.

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