On Friday, April 23, The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) at Binghamton University hosted its annual Earth Day celebration, where a variety of speakers and artists came on Zoom to discuss multiple environmental topics. NYPIRG at BU is a chapter of the NYPIRG group in New York state. The group works with other organizations on campus, coordinates community service events and hosts virtual panels.

Amy Liang, president of NYPIRG and a junior double-majoring in environmental studies and business administration, and Sage Block, vice president of NYPIRG and a senior double-majoring in environmental studies and philosophy, politics and law, are leading the organization’s environmental campaign. This campaign is focused on promoting climate policies by spreading awareness on issues such as air pollution and food and water quality. The event was focused on encouraging environmentalism and the ways we can all help the environment, but it was also a fundraiser in collaboration with Network for A Sustainable Tomorrow (NEST) and Sustainable Tompkins, two local nonprofit environmental justice organizations, for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund (FLCF), which is implementing plans to reduce carbon emissions alongside NEST. The funds will be distributed to low- and moderate-income households in the Binghamton area to help provide renewable housing upgrades, like heat pumps, air sources and insulation. The fundraiser and helps mitigate the costs of these types of upgrades for families that wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise.

Block discussed one of the main goals of the FLCF.

“The climate fund is to really empower low-income families in building that long-term green energy transition,” Block said. “In the long term, they will be saving a lot of money in energy costs.”

After Liang and Block’s introduction, they introduced the first of many speakers of the two-hour event. Teresa Liu, president of the BU chapter of Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Aware Solutions (IDEAS) and a senior majoring in business administration, discussed their aim to promote environmentalism and sustainability in the student body at BU. Liu discussed projects they are currently working on, like getting boot brush station signs installed that spread awareness of invasive species in parts of the Nature Preserve and planning a building event at some point in the future. Ryan Taylor, vice president of Students for Ethical Living and Food (SELF) and the BU Food Co-op and a senior majoring in environmental science, was also present discussing his organization. The Food Co-op is a student-run cafe that provides fully organic and vegan food that has been operating since 1975. Taylor ran a Kahoot! with the winner getting a prize of free sourdough bread and chocolate.

“We try to do a lot of outreach for the community, to our volunteers, to hold events and fun things like that,” Taylor said.

Additionally, there were multiple musicians present at the event. Emma Lov Block, one half of the musical pop duo Loote, played two original songs live on Zoom on piano. Helena Miller, a senior majoring in economics, sang a few classic rock songs live on Zoom, including “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles. Local indie rock group natural born kissers, comprised of BU alumni, sent a video for the event playing a handful of their songs. The video was a different interpretation of their songs, with only Mika Simone, ‘19 and Jacob Levine, ‘19 present. An art gallery was also shown with beautiful, Earth-inspired art on a slideshow.

Adam Flint, director of clean energy programs at NEST, ended the event by reinforcing the benefits of the FLCF. He said using the fund will help create more clean heating and cooling in buildings, and explained why it’s critical.

“Renewable energy and especially energy efficiency creates a ton of jobs,” Flint said. “Burning fossil fuels to heat in your home and to cook can be particularly bad to your health.”

Flint explained that NEST is a community-based program network that provides education and outreach about a variety of issues. They have sponsored organizations like the Broome County Land Trust, which is soon becoming its own organization.

Flint capped off his presentation by emphasizing the importance of encouraging environmentalism and sustainability in other student groups and imploring BU staff and faculty to promote this FLCF through the University in order to fight for the Earth and ensure a better future for the environment.