This year, Binghamton University students, faculty and staff found ways to celebrate Earth Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University held an Earth Day “Sustainability Scavenger Hunt,” hosted by the Office of Recycling and Resource Management, for the campus community. The group typically holds an Earth Day festival on the Peace Quad with over 300 participants. This year, however, they had to host an event in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.
The event took place on Thursday, April 22, at various locations scattered around the BU campus in an attempt to limit large gatherings of people. Martin Larocca, resource recovery manager of the Office of Recycling and Resource Management, gave insight into the purpose of the event.
“The intention of the scavenger hunt is to highlight some of the sustainability initiatives and resources [BU] offers,” Larocca wrote in an email. “This year’s Earth Day [“Sustainability Scavenger Hunt”] locations range from natural areas to programs addressing food insecurity within the campus and local community.”
Larocca explained that the locations contained two QR codes for participants to scan. One code was for new participants to join the scavenger hunt, and the other for a website link to give more specific information about the resources and how to become involved with the Office of Recycling and Resource Management.
One of the locations in the scavenger hunt was the University’s recycling containers on campus, where participants had to figure out how many different materials the University recycles. Larocca explained that it is a common misconception to assume it is only glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard, but the answer from the QR codes may have surprised people.
A kickoff event was held at 10 a.m. on the Peace Quad, where the scavenger hunt and the University’s actions to reduce its impact on the environment were discussed. Participants were also given reusable bags and hand sanitizer. All participants were required to wear masks and to follow social distancing guidelines. Anyone who completed the scavenger hunt before 11:59 p.m. was entered into a raffle for a prize, where multiple winners were selected and received goody bags.
Jessica Rosenberg, a sophomore majoring in human development, thought the scavenger hunt was a great idea.
“I am honestly not familiar with many of the resources [BU] has for sustainability, so I think the hunt is a great way to increase awareness about them,” Rosenberg wrote in an email. “Hopefully there [was] a big turnout.”
Charles Uhrin, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, agreed with Rosenberg’s thoughts.
“I think the scavenger hunt is a good idea for a way to still have an Earth Day celebration that follows social distancing guidelines,” Uhrin said.
In addition to planning the University’s Earth Day celebration, the Recycling and Resource Management program at BU is also responsible for collecting the various recycling waste streams on campus, creating educational displays, tracking recycling weights, tending to the Dickinson Community garden and campus orchard and many other things, according to their website.
Other BU students celebrated the holiday in other ways. Gilliane Yabut, a sophomore majoring in human development, spent time on Zoom with the Philippine-American League, an organization under the Asian Student Union.
“[We held] an event talking about sustainability in Asia,” Yabut said. “[We discussed] topics like natural disasters, urbanization of Asian cities and nature and ways to be more sustainable.”
Those who are interested in sustainability and helping the environment in ways that go beyond Earth Day are encouraged to go to BU’s sustainability website: https://www.binghamton.edu/sustainability/index.html.