Earth Month activities highlight environmental concerns with climate change


Courtesy of SIRT – Students gather at Teach In on Climate Justice on March 30, 2022

Mackenzie Seymour, Staff Writer

Each year, preventable environmental consequences as a result of climate change take the lives of approximately 13 million people, according to the United Nations (UN). 

“Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity,” according to the UN’s website. “The impacts are already harming health through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, food insecurity and pressures on mental health.”

During the month of April, UW Oshkosh’s Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations will be hosting a series of events to celebrate Earth Day in order to combat misinformation and increase awareness about climate change and sustainability. These events will range from talks and discussions on social and climate justice to classes and activities such as tree planting and campus-wide cleanups.

April 22 will also mark the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day. 

The first Earth Day, which was held in 1970, was created by Wisconsin senator and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson because he believed it was important to bring public awareness of critical environmental problems on a national level.   

“I think it is important for the university to hold Earth Month because of our commitment to sustainability,” said Brad Spanbauer, the campus sustainability coordinator. “We made a commitment to being a sustainable campus a long time ago, around 2000, and part of that commitment is sharing our knowledge with our campus community through events.” 

An introduction to Zen Buddhism and meditation kicked off Earth Month, followed by an electronic waste recycling event, a discussion on the current climate crisis, a community networking event and the 7th annual Free School within the first week. 

Throughout the month, the Women’s Center will also be hosting Go Green for Menstrual Hygiene classes, which educate students on sustainable alternatives for menstrual products. 

Other activities will include Arbor Day tree planting, bird watching at Asylum Bay and a bike tour to highlight sustainability efforts on campus and within the local community.   

The bike tour, which takes place on the last day of April, will make stops at the on campus ephemeral gardens, Oshkosh Food Co-Op and Menominee Park. A bike safety and repair event will take place two days before the tour, where bike experts from Winnebago Bicycles and the Outdoor Adventure Center will be available for minor tune-ups and to discuss safety for cyclists.

This year’s keynote on April 20 will feature Venice R. Williams, the executive director of Alice’s Garden Urban Farm in Milwaukee. The discussion will highlight the relationship between humans and Earth, the importance of sustaining the health of the planet, and how we can take action to protect and preserve the environment.  

“Holding these Earth Month events also helps engender a culture of sustainability on our campuses, which hopefully people extend into their life beyond the institutional boundaries,” Spanbauer said.