A group of students has launched Lander University's observance of Earth Week with the first of several clean-up activities. Members of the Environmental Sciences Students Organization (ESSO) recruited classmates to join them on Monday cleaning up trash in and along the banks of a creek that winds it way through the campus.
Victoria Parsells, president of ESSO, said a small army of students volunteered to work on the campaign between classes. Other activities scheduled during the week will include an Adopt-a-Highway trash pick-up on County Farm Road in Greenwood on Tuesday, followed by a campuswide cleanup on Wednesday. "Boundary to boundary," she said.
Parsells, a junior environmental sciences major from Laurens, said on Thursday, which is actually Earth Day nationally, ESSO has arranged a disposal project that will be open to the university and the entire Greenwood area. She said a professional shredding company will set up shop in the campus visitors' parking lot off Willson Street. A truck will be on site between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to shred paper of all kinds. Students will also be available to help unload cars of material for shredding.
Aramark, which operates Lander's dining services, is paying for the shredding operation. It also provided ESSO and other students involved in the cleanup activities with trash bags and protective gloves. Director Chris Spellman said that on Earth Day, Aramark will donate 90 Earth Day mugs to be sold on campus for $5.00. Each mug will come with a $5.00 coupon good for a free meal, and proceeds will be donated to ESSO for the group's activities.
As for the purpose of the Earth Week observances, Parsells said, "We want to remind the university and the Greenwood community that we have only one earth and we must take care of it."
Earth Day made its debut 40 years ago, the brainchild of then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, (D-Wisc.), who wanted to create a special occasion to focus attention on pollution issues and the health of the environment in general. His efforts led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed by passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.
Dr. Daniel Pardieck, associate professor of Environmental Geology and coordinator of Lander's Environmental Science Program, said earth week lost some of its luster during the 1980s and 1990s. But, he added, "In the last few years, I have seen it gaining steam. Communities, schools and civic organizations have been increasing their involvement in Earth Day projects, especially service work."
Pardieck thinks Earth Day and events surrounding it are quite effective in reaching people who already care about the environment but may have little impact on others. He said one trend is that Earth Day is becoming somewhat commercialized with the increased prominence of green businesses and initiatives.