Earth Day Celebration Shares Springfest Crowds

With Springfest festivities in full swing next door, the Earth Day celebration in Lowell House courtyard drew hundreds of students with interactive exhibits about conserving the environment and popular give-aways.

As fairgoers sipped water out of complimentary green Nalgene bottles, they also learned about the importance of protecting animals, conserving energy, and reducing waste.

“People really seem to be enjoying this,” said Kate S. Widland ’02, a co-chair of the Environmental Action Committee (EAC), the umbrella student group that encourages conservation and that organized Earth Day festivities. “Students said they learned things they didn’t already know, and that’s what this is about.”

While Earth Day celebrations have been held at Harvard for over two decades, Saturday’s festivities were the largest in recent memory, Widland said.

At each of the ten booths scattered around the courtyard, student groups used giveaways and activities—including an “environmental tarot card” reading and a hemp necklace workshop—in an attempt to educate visitors.

EAC sub-committees Green Cup, Enviro-Ed and the Sierra Student Coalition, along with People for Animal Welfare, the Harvard Fair Trade Initiative, and Project Health ran the Earth Day events.

At the event’s most popular stand, students waited in line to sign a petition urging President Bush to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002.

Afterwards, each signer was treated to a free cup of ice cream, courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s, which donated 25 gallons of one of their newest flavors—a concoction of coffee ice cream and chocolate and caramel swirls called One Sweet Whirled.

“I’m just here for the free ice cream,” said David P. Aranow ’04. “Learning about the environment is just a bonus.”

Aranow, an Environmental Science and Public Policy concentrator, said that the Earth Day celebration was important for the way it raised awareness.

“A lot of this stuff people already know—they just have to be reminded,” he said.

University President Lawrence H. Summers, who showed up for a quick tour of the festivities, said he was impressed by students’ efforts.

“I think the Earth Day component of Springfest is terrific for the ways it raises awareness of environmental issues,” he said. “The work being done here by students is both positive and important.”

Summers, who once served as chief economist at the World Bank, signed the petition to Bush but was ushered away by Undergraduate Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03 before he could get his cup of ice cream.

The president also missed out on the other big giveaway—free Nalgene water bottles —that Widland said was the “highlight for most people.”

Only students with a stamp from each booth at the fair could receive the popular containers, which were donated by the College’s Office of Physical Resources.