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Calvin Preps for Earth Week Celebration
April 13 , 2006

The Environmental Stewardship Coalition (ESC) at Calvin College is filling the entire week preceding Earth Day (to be celebrated this year on April 22) with an array of earth- and people-friendly activities.

They’re calling it “Earth Week.”

“There are so many issues involved in environmentalism that there’s no way we could do it all on one day,” says Rachel Unema-Vannette, a Calvin senior biology major and co-leader of the coalition.

The week’s activities range from gardening to water conservation and from tuning up bikes to mixing up homemade cleaners.

On Monday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Johnny’s, the coalition will feature local agriculture by showcasing a range of locally grown products.

“It’s environmentally friendly. It supports the local economy,” Unema-Vannette says of local food. “And you get fresher, and usually healthier, food.”

Come Tuesday, April, 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the group will again be at Johnny’s, demonstrating how to make earth-friendly cleaners from natural ingredients.

“Often people are exposed to cleaners that have toxic ingredients in them, and you wash them right down the drain. You’re exposed to them and then you expose them to the environment. We want to limit our dumping into the environment,” Unema-Vannette says of this effort.

Wednesday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is “lifestyle day” at Johnny’s, and the ESC will be promoting and water conservation and alternative forms of transportation. Working in conjunction with two other student organizations, the Calvin Social Justice Coalition and Students for Compassionate Living, the ESC will do a milk jug demonstration of average water usage and at 4:30 p.m. will host a panel of Calvin professors talking about their own earth-friendly lifestyle choices.

On Thursday, April 20, from 2 to 4 p.m., the ESC will host a service project in the woodlot adjoining the Calvin field house, one-third of which may be lost in the upcoming years to make room for a new wellness center. Participants will be digging up spring wildflowers and small shrubs and moving them to a “mitigation area,” a plot of ground that will substitute for the lost acreage.

“In order to salvage the plants in that part of the woodlot, we need to get them out this year,” Unema- Vannette says. The group will also clear the area of buckthorn, a common invasive species.

Also that day, at 8 p.m. in the Bytwerk Video Theatre there will be a screening of a 1972 film called "The Lorax," which is based on the Dr. Seuss book and tells the tale of a young boy who goes to meet a ruined industrialist in a treeless wasteland.

On Friday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the action moves back to Johnny’s where the ESC will sponsor a bike tune-up and veggie burger cookout with the Calvin Bike Club.

“They’ll be the mechanics, and then we’ll wash the bikes,” Unema-Vanette says. “We know that people live close enough to the campus to bike, so we want to encourage them to use that form of transportation. It promotes a healthy lifestyle and saves natural resources.”

The coalition has left Saturday, April 22 free for people to celebrate Earth Day as they see fit, but on April 23 the group is teaming with the Michigan Student Environmental Coalition (MSEC) to do community gardening for the Southeast Community Association.

“We’ll be turning over the soil and getting plots ready so that families in the area can grow vegetables and herbs,” says Unema-Vannette.

The ESC hopes the variety of events will send a clear message about earth-friendly living.

“We think that environmental stewardship is a really important issue and it should be to a Christian institution,” Unema Vanette says. “Students may not realize that their lifestyle choices also have an impact on the environment. So we want to show ways that people can minimize that impact.