By Sophia Crossley
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, local organizations held several events throughout Bellingham.
The Whatcom Community College Sustainability Club held Earth Week.
On Thursday, April 20, Dr. Jennifer Zovar, professor in anthropology and archaeology, lead an annual trash audit.
This audit evaluates how well Whatcom students and staff correctly separate and sort their waste.
“At a quick glance, it’s pretty obvious that we’re actually doing pretty decently on recycling here. Very little of the trash was recyclable plastic or recyclable glass or recyclable aluminum. The bigger numbers are things that could be composted and so that’s where, as a campus, we need to work towards some improvement,” Zovar said.
Dr. Sue Lonac, faculty advisor for the Sustainability Club said, “the most common type of contamination I’ve seen is coffee cups with the plastic lids still on them.”
The trash audit took place in the courtyard.
The results sought to uncover whether the addition of pictures on the bins improved student’s recycling habits.
“Students need to take the nanosecond that it takes to pull the plastic lid off a coffee cup before they dispose of the coffee cup and compost it with the plastic lid in the recycle,” Lonac said.
As in previous years, the Sustainability Club distributed plant seedlings in Syre Student Center for students to grow at home. Garlic, jalapeño, kale, sugar snap peas, and white bell pepper plants were handed out in biodegradable containers.
Elizabeth Cunningham, president of the club, brought the seedlings from her own greenhouse garden in Birch Bay, where they were grown with locally sourced seeds.
“Our main goal is just to get people thinking about growing their own food,” Cunningham said.
Vice president of the Sustainability Club, Linh Nguyen, and other club members were there speaking with students about how to sustainably grow their plants.
Before the event began, there were 300 plants available, but within the first hour, less than 100 were left.
The Sustainability Club partnered with local volunteer effort, The Repair Café, whose volunteers, Josh Shupack and Roderick Kimball, came to campus on Wednesday and mended the broken appliances brought by students, for free.
The goal behind this event was to reduce waste by extending the life of an appliance, according to Lacy Lackey, a Sustainability Club member in attendance.
The Repair Café meets at The Foundry the first Sunday of every month from 3-5 p.m.
The Earth Day celebration hosted by the Green Party of Whatcom County had their barter faire. Doug Gustafson is a member of the coordinating committee for the Green Party of Whatcom County. The trading practice of the barter faire was a no sacrifice approach to reusing items and another step towards reducing waste, Gustafson said.
Attendees came to the Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday and celebrated inside the park’s indoor facility.
At the Locust Beach Cleanup, volunteers removed garbage from the location.
Rose Howe, a volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation, often participates in beach cleanups on the behalf of the foundation, which is dedicated to protecting these areas.
“This is actually kind of exciting, I’ve never really picked up dog poop off this park before. This is probably one of the most important things you can pick up, for water quality,” Howe said.
Howe and her friend Paige Rogstad teamed up to separate recyclables from trash.
The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association decided to focus on new growth, inviting volunteers to come to the Potting Party on Saturday at the association’s new campus. This recently built campus, on 3057 E. Bakerview road, Bellingham, was funded through their two year capital campaign.
Alexa Jones, a representative for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association visited Whatcom’s campus on April 20. Jones set up a table to answer questions about the association’s available programs and internships, as well as the Saturday work party.
Volunteers repotted and organized various plants for future projects.
Annitra Peck, program director for Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, said “By the time they grow up and go out to restoration sites, they’re about $4 worth a piece, and we can buy them for about 25 cents each as bare root stock and just have a nursery available to have them grow and acclimate for two years, and create strong and healthy native plants so that they can go out next to a stream and benefit habitat.”
“When we plant those plants out on the site, it helps filter all the water that’s going down to the stream, any subsurface flow or surface flow entering into those streams, those plants help to filter that, filter nutrients, and filter out any chemicals,” Jones said. “They also stabilize the banks of the streams, so not as much silt gets into the stream, decreasing saltation and increasing breathability for fish.”
Paying extra for local produce was one of the suggestions made by Lonac, under the broader concept of sustainability starting from the mindful choices of an individual.
The Farmers Market happens every Saturday on 1100 Railroad Ave. from April through December and every third Saturday January, February and March.
Whatcom employee transportation coordinator, Courtney Kendall, has been promoting the Bike to Work and School Day on May 19.
Whatcom Running Start student, Liliana Gilster, said, “If you unplug your dishwasher when you’re not using it, you’ll cut down on your electricity use. It’s the little stuff like that.”
The Whatcom Sustainability Club meets every Wednesday from 4-5 p.m. in Kulshan Hall Room 225 and is open to anyone.