This past week, Hope Advocates for Sustainability, Green Hope and the Greenteam paired with the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute to sprout Earth Week full of education, art and fun. For many, Earth Week is reserved for April and Earth Day festivities but on a campus and in a town that calls homage to the great lakes and the pines, members of the community find reason to honor, celebrate and protect the Earth everyday.
Monday through Wednesday consisted of air quality, green transportation, and recycling awareness booths in Maas Auditorium as well as a presentation on sustainable living along Lake Macatawa’s watershed at the Herrick District Library.
Thursday brought more sustainable presentations by local eco-artist Sandra Hansen and Dr. Bodenbender of the Biology department along with a full screening of the documentary-film, “A Plastic Ocean,” which can be found on Netflix. All leading up to a Friday evening of live music, free food and giveaways at the “Earth Jam.” Hansen uses a mix of discarded trash, household goods and outside inspiration to create art that embodies Earth’s many forms of wild water. From ocean waves to lake trout, her creations hold images that every audience member connects to. Her goalas an artist is to become a zero-waste artist, meaning her art could be created without anything resulting in non-biodegradable discards. Hansen has focused particularly on reusing plastic goods due to their indestructible and decomposable nature. The documentary-film “A Plastic Ocean, focuses primarily on the results of plastic trash and the impact it has on the oceans.
Craig Leeson, the film’s primary narrator, explains that through a combination of the five ocean gyres, salt and sunlight, plastic that finds its way to the ocean is broken into pieces one-tenth the weight of a paperclip which can then absorb dangerous chemicals further endangering plants, animals and humans.
Although the official events ended with Friday’s fun, Dr. Hemingway, a professor in the English Department, placed the spirit in action as he led a group of students to the 26 Annual Intercoastal Cleanup at Laketown Beach in Allgean County. Hemingway reported that the group gathered 75 pounds of trash, clearing space and creating a place for people and seagulls alike to soak up the 80 degree rays of the weekend.
Environmental action that he along with others, such as Dr. Bodenbender, hope to see ripple through campus activities, conversations and concerns. Bodenbender explained in an interview that his drive for environmental protection stems from care and concern, “of the past and a sense of obligation to future generations.”
Students too are increasingly choosing to make environmental protection a focus of their careers with an environmental studies major and minor pending. Emily Hamilton (’19) stated the call best by sharing, “small actions by individuals are no longer enough, it will take strong collective effort to protect this planet.” A conclusion that invites a more sustainable campus through creativity, forward-thinking, and present action,