Students at colleges and universities across the nation and even across the world have been celebrating Earth Day yearly since its inception in 1970. Many colleges and universities host an array of events throughout “Earth Week” and even “Earth Month,” rallying students from all corners of campus—science, business, liberal arts majors and beyond—to take action and learn about the third planet from the sun. Campus Earth Day celebrations are gaining popularity as colleges and universities continue to increase not only “behind-the-scenes” sustainability measures such as improving the energy efficiency of buildings, but also to promote environmentally responsible habits through energy and water waste reduction competitions like Campus Conservation Nationals. Earth Day events also offer campuses the opportunity to engage with local, sustainable businesses and to educate and involve community members in protecting natural resources and wildlife habitats in the region.

Community members attend the Somerset Community College 2012 celebration. Photo credit Somerset Community College 2012 Earth Day Celebration.
If you have yet to decide how you are going to celebrate this particular day (April 22 in case you forgot), we here at NWF Campus Ecology suggest browsing our Campus Sustainability Case Study Database—searching for “earth day” brings up 44 projects and events that campuses have shared with us over the past few decades—we think you’ll find it all highly inspirational. Below are two highlights from our database and my personal favorite campus Earth Day celebrations to get you in the planet-party planning mode! We hope you will document your campus Earth Day activities and share them with us on facebook to include in our “Campus Earth Day Celebrations 2013” album.

At Somerset Community College in Somerset, Kentucky, the Earth Day celebration has grown to include over 750 college students and community members in 2012, up from just 100 participants in 2005. The 2012 celebration included a farmers market, resources about solar panels and electric vehicles, as well as free compact fluorescent light bulbs and reusable grocery bags for attendees. Somerset CC comments, “at the heart of the event is the aim to educate the community about sustainability, which includes caring for the environment and reducing the amount of energy and natural resources consumed.”

Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts challenged students to a “Top Sustainability Chef” competition as part of their Earth Week 2012 schedule. Three students crafted dishes using all organic ingredients, including the “not-so-secret clean food ingredient,” organic mushrooms, in 30 minutes for judges including a “clean food” cookbook author. “Top Sustainability Chef” participants produced Thai chicken curry, asparagus and mushrooms and raw corn and avocado soup during lunchtime in one of Bridgewater’s dining halls, thus promoting organic and local foods to over 300 passersby.

UNH SEAC will celebrate the 20th annual Solarfest, a solar-powered music and arts festival this year. Photo credit Abigail Gronberg.

And now for a personal favorite! This year, the University of New Hampshire’s Student Environmental Action Coalition will host the 20th annual Solarfest—an all-day, solar-powered music festival in Durham, New Hampshire. Each year around Earth Day, the Sunweaver solar bus rolls up to UNH with its 800 watt solar array, providing power for nonstop music from 11 am to sunset for thousands of students and community members. Solarfest is a way for students to unwind before finals and to culminate a typically jam-packed Earth Week. The event also features local cuisine, artists and businesses, student organizations and community environmental resources.


How are YOU celebrating Earth Day? Earth Week, Earth Month, Earth Year, Earth Century…Earth Millennium?! Comment below, and share photos of your events with Campus Ecology on facebook throughout the month of April.

More Earth Day resources: