Norm the Navel

UCR celebrates Earth Week with activities and pledges throughout the month

The campus community is encouraged to get involved

April 13, 2021
Author: Imran Ghori
April 13, 2021

UC Riverside is expanding the ways the campus community can get informed and take action for Earth Day with a series of activities throughout the month.

The Office of Sustainability has created an Earth Week page with more than a dozen events from April 19-25 to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. 

Earth Day will celebrate its 51st anniversary on April 22. The event is held in more than 190 countries and has expanded to more than a single day of activities in many places, including UCR.

“Working with UC Riverside departments and student organizations to put together so many Earth Week events is a reflection of Highlanders’ resilience toward COVID-19 and a commitment to sustainability,” said Francis Mitalo, sustainability program coordinator with the Office of Sustainability.

The office is working with a number of campus groups and departments on events and campaigns including Environmental Health and Safety; Housing and Dining Services; Facilities Services; Healthy Campus; and the Green Campus Action Plan, or GCAP.

One of the highlights from the week of activities is the Sustainable Development Goals Launch featuring Steve Lee, a climate change activist and policy advocate to the United Nations. The Foundation for Environmental Stewardship in British Columbia, Canada, is co-hosting the workshop.

Other presentations include Career Panel & Networking in Sustainability; a Facilities Services Earth Week Panel on status of green initiatives on campus; and Protecting Cultural Landscapes in the Face of Climate Change, presented by the Native American Land Conservancy.

The Office of Sustainability is also hoping to offer some fun ways for students, faculty, and staff members to get involved including a photo contest and a Tik Tok challenge.

UCR CleanWater, a division of Environmental Health & Safety, began its “Be a Zero Hero” campaign at the start of the month, featuring Norm the Navel asking students, staff and faculty members to sign a Zero Waste Pledge. The website includes several tips to achieve that goal including refusing single-use packaging; reducing paper and plastic usage; and reusing, repurposing, or refurbishing plastic and paper whenever possible.

“Small actions make a big impact,” said Amanda Grey, environmental programs manager for EH&S UCR CleanWater. “We want to provide you tools and skills to take action. We want you to have what you need to get involved.”

The campus has already made progress in reducing its waste, according to the 2020 Sustainability Annual Report. Per capita waste is at 0.74 pounds, below the 2025 target of 1.04 pounds.

UCR is also phasing out single-use plastic bags starting with its elimination in January at retail and food service establishments on campus. Dining Services launched Reusable R’2GO Boxes to phase out single-use plastic containers.

According to a campus timeline, plastic accessories such as straws and utensils will be replaced with compostable or reusable items by July; plates, cups, and containers will be replaced with reusable alternatives by July 2022; and single-use plastic water beverage bottles will be phased out by July 2023.

UCR recently received the Bicycle Friendly University Designation, the Tree Campus USA designation, submitted the UC Riverside general sustainability report to the international ranking and rating system AASHE STARS

The campus is also among 75 colleges and universities across the country calling on President Biden to adopt a target of at least 50% reduction in carbon emissions in an April 8 letter sent to the White House.

For more information on the different events and activities, visit the Office of Sustainability website.