Earth Week encourages eco-friendly practices

Geneseo Environmental Organization hosted their annual Earth Week, promoting ecological consciousness and sustainable practices. At the Dumpster Dive, students sorted through garbage to see how much recycled waste they could salvage from the trash. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

The Geneseo Environmental Organization held their annual Dumpster Dive event on the MacVittie College Union’s patio to celebrate Earth Week on Tuesday April 18. Earth Day is officially on Sunday April 23.

The event advocated recycling and trash reduction to encourage students to examine on-campus waste.

Wearing protective gear, students sifted through bags of garbage collected from different buildings across campus. As they dug through the trash, participants removed recyclable materials: plastic, metal and compostable garbage—through which participants lessened the amount of waste by six pounds. 

“It’s a live, interactive art exhibit,” geography major junior Vanessa Haas said. “What we’re trying to do is make the campus more aware of what we throw out and how much of it can actually be recycled.”

Before sorting the garbage, team members weighed each bag with a hanging scale. Among the trash, they found not only recyclable and compostable items, but also food, half-finished coffees and Tupperware. 

“I’m really surprised by what we find in the garbage and how wasteful people are with certain things,” biology major sophomore Alison Rigg said. 

GEO will present their data from the Dumpster Dive on Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day. 

In addition to the Dumpster Dive, Geneseo Campus Activities Board and GEO hosted “ecospeaker” Dave Wann in Newton 201 to commemorate Earth Week on Wednesday April 19. During his address, Wann spoke on pursuing sustainability from an anthropological perspective. 

To setup the lecture, Wann began by performing an original song, titled, “The Monkey Song.” Foregrounding meaningful work, the song implored listeners to seek meaningful and enjoyable vocations, so as not to trap themselves in a metaphorical zoo.

“I urge you to find a work direction in life that fits and makes you feel good,” Wann said. “Otherwise, you will regret it—I know a lot of people in their 40s and 50s who are making some money, but it doesn’t resonate with them.”

Referencing Gandhi, Wann argued that speed, power and wealth have no relevance if applied in the wrong direction. In America, the culture has failed by getting itself preoccupied with a fixation on money, according to Wann. 

“As a culture, rather than focusing on health and wellness, we’ve focused on health and hell-ness,” Wann said. “A lot of anxiety has come out of trying to live up to things we’ve imagined, and all the addictions we have only guarantee ourselves dissatisfaction.”

To Wann, who works as a freelance writer, the solution to America’s cultural dilemma demands reprioritization on a revolutionary scale. For creating a sustainable future, Wann proposed adopting a system with well-earned social rewards, rather than allowing financial incentives to define status. 

In reconfiguring American culture, the definition of success must change to reflect a higher sense of purpose and belonging that transcends profit, according to Wann. Using agency as the vehicle for sustainability, Americans should adopt the role of active designers who decide their own culture. 

“Redefining success is the simplest path to saving the environment,” Wann said. “If we can each convince ourselves we’ve reached a point of content, then we can get away from the anxiety of comparison.”

To seek simple prosperity, Wann advocates a return to collective intuition that addresses timeless human needs and that allows for the differentiation between what he calls fake wealth and real wealth. While radical cultural change might seem daunting, Wann finds optimism in the actualization of nation ethics already achieved by Japan, Costa Rica and Denmark. 

With a full week of programming, Geneseo has marked Earth Week in an enlightening fashion. From waste to sustainability, the community continues on through April with a greater education on ecological consciousness.

Staff writer Sarah Buckser contributed to the writing of this article.