Educating community on sustainability


The Office of Sustainability joined Earth Day Houston for a weekend of educating the local community on going environmentally friendly at Discovery Green Park.  |  Diana Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Earth Day Houston, developed by Air Alliance Houston, was celebrated Saturday at Discovery Green Park as a day to celebrate the planet and focus on the merits of mindful, sustainable living.

First celebrated in 2006, Earth Day Houston was created in the hopes of educating and encouraging Houstonians to preserve, conserve and enhance our city and the Earth by providing a community-centered, family-friendly event open to the public and free for all to attend.

The free one-day celebration, sponsored by Waste Management, included entertainment and environmental education highlighting land, air, water, sustainability, healthy living and wildlife and habitat.

The festival featured 100 booths, 86 of which were represented by Texas-based nonprofits as well as UH organizations like the Office of Sustainability and various engineering students’ projects.

“I love the idea of Earth Day Houston. I’m glad Houston is taking initiative to educate our community of how to care for our planet,” said consumer science and merchandising senior Tanya Martinez. “We really are one of the most polluted and obese cities. Little things like carpooling or biking or even planting your own fruits and vegetables really help. Too many of us are too lazy and comfortable to make lifestyle-changing efforts. I have a lot of respect for those who are able to go through with it.”

Among those who strive to live their lives bettering the environment is environmental design senior Sarah Kim.

“I volunteered at the Green Building Resource Center sponsored by the city of Houston,” Kim said. “That’s where we learn how to incorporate sustainable design into buildings. I got to learn about water and energy efficiency. A lot of the technology that’s out there today helps reduce the use of energy consumption.”

Kim, who volunteers her summers to learn about sustainable design, represented the Office of Sustainability on Earth Day by handing out red pouches as an environmentally friendly alternative to the standard plastic water bottles. When asked what people can do to live their lives more greenly, Kim suggests the initial step of education.

“Read a lot about it,” Kim said. “Green marketing doesn’t necessarily mean sustainability. Just educating yourself to take small actions towards being sustainable is one of the more efficient ways. It’s the first step. I want to promote the educational part about it rather than just the quick and easy solution.”

Supply chain alumnus Michael Perkins rides his bike not only to help the environment, but also to park in the front and not have to worry about parking. He volunteered at a beehive booth educating kids on the bee’s role in the environment. Perkins added his two cents on the resourcefulness of weeds and why to avoid using pesticides in gardening.

“Those are the types of plants that have an easy time surviving,” Perkins said. “They may not provide anything for us, but they do for the bees which in turns helps us. It’s one of those things where you live and let be. Keep the bees alive. Keep them going and support local honey.”

Perkins also pointed out the rise of colony collapse, in which worker bees from a beehive abruptly disappear.

“Colony collapse is happening,” Perkins said. “It’s an unknown thing. Bees are making their ways into homes, and instead of calling the pesticide people, I recommend contacting the Houston Beekeeping Association.”

Reflecting upon Earth Day Houston, Perkins found the festival to be fulfilling.

“Earth Day was amazing,” Perkins said. “It’s fulfilling for me to ignite children’s curiosity, and what better way than to volunteer for Earth Day, sharing insights into the bittersweet world of the honey bee.”

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