Tuesday marked the 44th observance of Earth Day, a day called “the day the modern environmental movement was born,” according to the Earth Day Network.
The Murray State Environmental Society, or MESS, dedicated the past week helping students on campus remember the importance of keeping the Earth clean for future generations to enjoy.
The events put on by MESS ranged from handing out free sustainable T-shirts and a free showing of the movie “Gasland” to a panel discussion titled “Intersectionality: The Environment Surrounds Us.”
The panel, which met Wednesday in the Blackburn Science Building, was made up of different Murray State faculty members, each with their own topic of discussion.
The panel covered a wide scope of topics: environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, religion and gender issues were all discussed.
Rachel Williams, junior from Louisville, Ky., stopped by Carr Health on Monday to get a free tee shirt and learned how to make sustainable shirts.
Williams said learning to screen print was a new skill she could use on thrifted shirts.
“It was really cool—they were giving them out for free,” Williams said. “I stopped by because I was running an errand for my job and they grabbed my attention. They used re-used shirts.”
Williams said she was impressed by the energy the MESS students had for the environment.
“It was cool to see a group of students who were actively caring about the environment,” Williams said. “You don’t see a lot of people caring about something so publicly, and putting so much effort into getting others to care, too.”
For MESS, planning for Earth Day and Earth Week events is a year-long process.
Allison Crawford, former Murray State student and former MESS president, said MESS gathers ideas for Earth Week celebrations from different lectures, panels and events the members attend throughout the year.
“Earth Week is the biggest event we plan for,” Crawford said. “We think about it all year long. It’s been a really long, drawn-out process of getting ideas, but we really started getting everything together back in February, and everything was finalized by the end of March.”
The mission statement of MESS is “to promote awareness and activism of environmental and conservation issues, while enjoying and engaging in outdoor recreational activities.” According to Crawford, the point of Earth Week is to do just that: promote sustainability while getting everyone outside and enjoying what the group works so hard to protect.
Crawford said Earth Week, and Earth Day itself, are designed to promote the importance of the Earth and keeping it healthy.
Crawford said she believes every person, student or not, needs to know they play a role in the environment that live in.
“It’s important for people to realize how the environment affects their lives, and that they live in it,” she said. “In order for them to find success, it’s important to have clean air, water, soil—all of that.”
Jessica Brown, president of MESS and junior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., said that while the main goal of Earth Week is to increase attention on the importance of environmentalism, it was also a chance to get MESS’ name back out there.
After a two-semester hiatus, Brown feels it is time to make a new, more prominent name for the small group.
“We want to show people that we are rebuilding and get a new positive image out there,” Brown said.
Brown said next semester’s focus will be pushing for a green fee.
She said the $5 fee would be added onto tuition to help keep campus sustainable.
In previous years, MESS has gathered roughly 10,000 student signatures who support the fee to improve the environment and sustainablility efforts.
Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer