Georgetown hosted its second annual Earth Week from April 17 to April 23, with over 25 student organizations and several administrative offices coming together to highlight sustainability and environmental advocacy.
Earth Week is an extended celebration of Earth Day, which falls annually on April 22. The holiday is rooted in student activism; inspired by the anti-Vietnam War movement, lawmakers and activists organized a nationwide series of teach-ins on college campuses in 1970 to promote environmental awareness.
Earth Week event chairs Charvee Dua (CAS ’25), Mark Kuo (CAS ’24), Jialan Deal (SFS ’24) and Cate Ledoux (CAS ’25) aimed to host diverse and interactive events with the goal of reaching as wide of an audience as possible. In the spirit of inclusivity, events such as outdoor meditation, hiking, discussions, documentary screenings, planting and soap-making packed the weeklong schedule.
“The main idea behind this whole Earth Week collaborative is just getting groups involved that aren’t necessarily automatically environmental groups and trying to get more of the student body thinking about sustainability on campus and environmentalism as a whole,” Dua told The Hoya. “Our main purpose was really just to unify everyone.”
Kuo said that one of the main focuses of this year’s Earth Week was to build a smooth and sustainable model for planning future Earth Weeks.
“We wanted to start building this ecosystem that could provide that same platform to ensure that this is something that can happen again and again every year,” Kuo told The Hoya.
The promotion of community-oriented efforts was one of the most prominent themes of the week, particularly for events hosted by the Georgetown Eco Consultants. The club recently participated in the Adopt-A-Block program, an initiative where residents can take charge of the cleanliness of their neighborhood through the Mayor’s Office of Washington, D.C. They set out on Tuesday afternoon to clean their newly acquired property, located just steps off campus.
Valerie Mallon (CAS ’24), the club’s president, emphasized the importance of community-level environmental projects like Adopt-A-Block, in addition to larger-scale work.
“That was the first time that we, as a new club, engaged with the community at a more long-term, tangible level,” Mallon told The Hoya.“The work we do is obviously business impact, so this was an attempt by the former board to initiate this process of engaging in the community in a more hands-on way.”
On Friday, the Earth Commons hosted the Breaking Ground Festival to celebrate the launch of a new community garden on the Leavey Center Patio. The festival featured local clothing vendors, food stands, art displays, informational booths and a reggae band.
The festival also featured presentations from student and local organizations on D.C. environmental fellowships, the new composting system at Leo’s and ongoing petitions to clean up the Potomac and update recycling laws.
The event highlighted features of the new garden such as drip irrigation, no-till agriculture and interplanting using the three sisters method of the Iroquois confederation in order to maximize sustainability and food accessibility. The garden, which is only a year into its two-year pilot, has already been utilized in some classes as a hands-on example of climate friendly agriculture.
The weekly Georgetown Farmer’s Market also participated in GU Earth Week. According to member Charlie Cushman (MSB, SFS ’25), the organization tries to treat every week like Earth Week as they consistently incorporate sustainability principles into their market.
GU Farmer’s Market Co-Director Yasemin Celikoyar (CAS ’24) stressed the importance of incorporating composting and recycled materials into their market model, in addition to emphasizing the significance of GU Earth Week.
“I think it highlights what we are trying to work for: a greener environment and a more sustainable future,” Celikoyar told The Hoya.“Yeah, we talk about how it is up to the big corporations and not just the individual level, but there are actually a lot of things that we can do at the individual level to help too.”
While the positive spirit of the week was apparent in this celebration, acknowledging the gravity of the situation was not overlooked.
When speaking of the recent shortcomings regarding environmental consciousness at Georgetown, Kuo said he still holds out hope for change.
“We know that it has been a frustrating process for many students, but having the students come together to host events for Earth Week is one way that we can further show that students are in fact very interested and heavily invested in the environment,” Kuo said.