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Lehigh marks 40th anniversary of Earth Day

In 1970, the Partridge Family dominated airwaves. Families gathered to watch The Odd Couple and Hawaii Five-0. Richard Nixon was president. While much of this sounds like ancient history to current Lehigh students, one notable event in 1970 continues to inspire new generations: Earth Day.

This week, the Lehigh community will once again come together to raise awareness and rally support for environmental issues—just as students have done for the past 40 years. Organizers hope to honor the 40th anniversary of Earth Day to highlight issues such as sustainability, climate change, renewable energy, and organic living.

Chiharu Tokura, who earned her graduate certificate in environment law and policy at Lehigh, volunteered to help organize the festivities. She says the events will help students learn about important milestones of environmental action over the past 40 years and hopefully spark change for the future.

“There has been a lot of progress with international organizations, but there’s a lot more work to be done,” says Dan Coviello ’10, a member of the Earth Day planning committee. “We want to make an invisible movement more visible.”

On-campus organizations—including Green Action, the Progressive Student Alliance and Engineers Without Borders—have joined forces with the Environmental Initiative and the Lehigh Environmental Advisory Group (LEAG) to offer a series of events throughout the week.

Although Earth Day is celebrated globally on April 22, Lehigh will host its main event on Wednesday, April 21, on the University Center lawn on the Asa Packer campus. Both the campus and local communities are invited to attend.

Vendors and organizations will offer organic food, biodiesel and geothermal demonstrations, live music and dance performances, sculptures made of recycled materials and a nature photography contest. At 1 p.m., President Alice P. Gast will participate in a tree-planting ceremony.

Some of the events will also highlight the strides Lehigh is making toward creating a greener campus. Sales of $5 organic cotton T-shirts will help benefit LEAG’s Green Fund, which offers one-time grants of up to $2,000 to students who want to make Lehigh a more sustainable campus. Dining Services will present an organic food demonstration at 11:30 a.m. and tours of the Lehigh composter will be conducted at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

“I feel that environmental issues are going to be the most important issue we’re going to deal with in the future,” says Coviello, a chemical engineering major who hopes to work on environmental issues. “Education and awareness are key.”

For additional Earth Day events happening throughout the week, please visit the Environmental Initiative calendar.

Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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