Earth Wise aiming for environmental friendliness

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Staff Reporter

Years ago, a group of students wanted to help make Eastern Illinois University, as well as its students, aware of the ways the community can be more environmentally friendly. Those students formed what is now known as Earth Wise, a student organization focused on increasing the environmental responsibility of Eastern and the surrounding community by raising awareness of, and participation in, sustainable practices.

Miranda Martinez, junior communication disorders and sciences student, is the Vice President of Earth Wise.

She explained that the purpose of Earth Wise is to create a space where students can get together to think of different ways to help Eastern become more environmentally friendly. She believes there is a lot more the Eastern community could do to achieve sustainability and environmental friendliness. By raising awareness about important environmental issues and ways to help the environment among the students, the organization hopes to help Eastern see they need to be doing more as well.

Earth Wise hosts many events throughout the school year to help them achieve their purpose. The organization coordinates projects and seminars to explore and encourage responsible resource usage, material recycling, biofuel production and other applicable processes.

Their many events include tabling events where they would spread information about various important topics.

“We have done tabling events to spread awareness about composting and the [Urban Butterfly Initiative]. We once had a composting workshop where we invited students to come so they can learn how to use their waste to create compost. We also discussed ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle,” she said.

One of their biggest projects is an event in which they help the Urban Butterfly Initiative in Charleston. The Urban Butterfly Initiative is a community service organization that works to increase biodiversity, beauty, and scientific awareness in their communities. They work toward transforming green spaces into butterfly-friendly habitats.

“A big part about us is that we have a lot of people who help with the [Urban Butterfly Initiative] in Charleston, which is where we get rid of invasive species, then plant different kinds of flowers and different plants to help bring in more pollinators, mostly butterflies, if there’s not enough in the area. It helps bring more here,” she said.

Last year, they also had a very successful year in raising awareness about important environmental issues, holding a climate change rally in Charleston.

“We invited all of Eastern’s campus as well as the Charleston community [to the climate change rally]. It was to help bring attention to the importance of climate change and to the fact that people need to start doing something about it instead of thinking it’s not happening or not taking initiative,” she said. “That was a really big event we had last year.”

Earth Wise used to hold weekly meetings every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. in the Life Sciences building here on campus.

“[In past meetings,] we would sit down and talk about ways we could help improve Eastern. A big thing we were trying to make happen last year was getting rid of the styrofoam in the university halls,” she said. “We would talk about the things we could improve within the university itself and plans for events like going hiking at Lake Charleston with students. We would even plan events to pull weeds [around campus,] which helps get students more active within different environmentally friendly activities.”

Things have changed for the organization since they have been greatly affected by the pandemic. They have yet to have any meetings this fall semester. Since COVID began spreading and Eastern responded to the pandemic by setting guidelines to protect the community, Earth Wise has been struggling to hold meetings and events like they have in past years.

“Because of this year, with the pandemic and everything, it’s been really hard trying to plan any events,” she said. “One major concern is that we have had few students [join Earth Wise] in past years. Unfortunately because we are not able to meet or hold events in person, it has definitely had an impact on the amount of members that we have now. Just being able to get our name out there has also been a little challenging, because when we’re not able to go up to people in person, they are not able to understand our passion and our mission as Earth Wise.”

 

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]