Earth Day is celebrated worldwide each year on 22 April, a date which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The day is typically used to highlight environmental protection and preservation through eco-conscious activities, such as tree planting or mass-participant cleanups. By extension, the week preceding Earth Day is celebrated as Earth Week—even the whole month can be dedicated to the cause.
EcoMaties, Facilities Management, SRC Sustainability, Academics for Development and United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA) Stellenbosch University Chapter have collaborated for this year’s Earth Week, and have planned a series of events to run from 18 to 23 April.
“The first Earth Week that Stellenbosch is hosting is set to be a memorable one! Students from diverse societies, faculties and ages have come together to organise a string of environmentally focused events, from informative climate change talks to a sustainability amazing race, to a green market on our very own Rooiplein,” said Megan Farquhar, EcoMaties secretary and co-planner of the clothing swap.
“There is an event to meet every person’s interest.”
To start off Earth Week, there was a poster painting session on the Rooiplein on 19 April, which was followed by the Amazing Race on 20 April, and there will be a film screening at the AmaMaties Hub on 21 April. The green market is happening on 22 April on the Rooiplein, and there will be a community cleanup in Kayamandi and clothing swap at Jan Marais Nature Reserve on 23 April. A seminar series is being held in the CoCreate Hub between 19 and 21 April along with other activities throughout the week.
Matthew Wingfield, PhD candidate and co-planner of the climate seminar series for Earth Week, said, “In my time as a Stellenbosch student (since 2015), I don’t think I’ve seen [many events arranged] for Earth Week, so it’s a welcome change, and I am excited to see how we can deal with climate change on a practical level [and] in a way that engages with a wide range of students.”
“As we all know, the need to take care of our home is becoming increasingly important, and I am so glad sustainability is increasingly featured on the university’s agenda this year. If we don’t have a planet to live on, almost nothing else matters,” said Nina Hugo, chairperson of UNASA Stellenbosch University Chapter.
“The projects that are planned are going to be wonderful opportunities to educate and get students involved in the case against climate change, and we look forward to helping to facilitate them.”
Earth Week is a promising endeavor and has the potential to become an annual event series at SU, growing in magnitude and reach every year. It can serve as a platform to promote environmental consciousness through engaging activities, to open conversation, and to promote accessibility to students—especially those who are not passionate about environmental movements, or those who are curious to know more or expand their understanding.
“My hope is that Earth Week will have big and little effects—from encouraging our university, to pushing for sustainable policies, to inspiring just one individual to make greener lifestyle choices! And [the dream is to] do this all in a sustainable way,” said Tessa Brooke, SRC Sustainability portfolio manager.