Earth Day Festival celebrates sustainability in amidst uncertainty in the White House


Cassie Follman ‘20 Contributing Writer

On Friday, April 21, the Earth Day Festival demonstrated Smith College’s dedication to sustainability and the environment. Organized by Eco-Reps and the Sustainability Coordinator, the event hosted different activities and tabling from various sustainability organizations on campus and even an acapella performance. The Festival sought to not only educate fellow Smithies and the community about how to get involved in sustainability at Smith, but also gave the prospective students insight into an important aspect on campus.

Kaylie Abner ’19, one of the Eco-Reps that helped organize the event, discussed the planning that went into the event and the activities available. One of the tables held different recycling bins which Kaylie said was created by “a group developed a sorting game to hopefully help people learn what can go in the container recycling, compost, paper recycling and what needs to go in the trash.” There were also art projects available for participants. Kaylie said, “We wanted to remind people that sustainability is beautiful, so a group of eco-reps made a variety of art projects that will use reclaimed materials.” There were also button and bookmark-making activities at the festival.

With April Showers as a crucial part of encouraging sustainability, Abner accounted how the Eco-Reps approached the event differently this year. “We still focus on how to conserve water, but now we are also focusing on why water conservation matters in Northampton.” At the festival, the group tabled to discuss the issue. Abner accounted that, “The April Showers group did a great job of pulling together the importance of water conservation as a human rights issue.” She expanded on that by saying that, “Another group looked into lead in water beyond Flint and developed a visual representation of the water crisis.” Sustainability on Smith’s campus should not be the only focus. It is also important that Smithies learn how they can help the greater Northampton community and beyond.

A participant at the bookmark-making station talked about the festival as a whole and learning more about sustainability at Smith. Heather Kizner ’20 explained, “This is a really cool thing. I enjoy that Smith is so active with sustainability and being Earth-friendly.” The sentiment was felt throughout the event, and it is important to acknowledge the work from sustainability organizations on campus that both increase awareness and create change. Kizner went on to say that, “It wasn’t something that was on my mind before I got here, but now that it’s here I appreciate that it’s here and I think more colleges should do stuff like this.” While it is important to consider one’s impact on the planet every day, this festival shows that important events can foster long-lasting change and impact the minds of the Smith community.

One of the representatives from Divest, Dana Barry ’20, said, “It’s nice to show the prospies that Smith has a lot of really socially active organizations, but that we care about Smith past just our academics. We care about Smith as an institution.” Showing prospective new students this side of Smith is a crucial aspect of the community,and provides insight into the opportunities available,  as well as the dedication Smithies have to their community. Barry continued, “It [Divest] shows that Smith students have individual interests, and that sometimes those interests mean saying that we don’t agree with everything that’s happening here.”

The Earth Festival sought to educate and create a fun environment in which Smithies could learn about and embrace sustainability on campus. It is a testament to the Smith community that such events are held, and seen as vital parts of in the community.