Earth Fair raises awareness on global warming, recycling

Jessica Hager

In celebration of Earth Day event held Tuesday, CSUN’s Associated Students hosted the school’s 38th Annual Earth Fair, providing free food, music and more than 25 booths representing a variety of environmental causes.

Students had the opportunity to visit booths from the California Wildlife Center, the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society and Organic To Go Caf’eacute;s, among others. Representatives from each booth took the time to raise awareness for their organization.

“Our mission is to end animal exploitation,” said Meghan McGill, representative for the campaign department of Last Chance For Animals, an activist organization. “We’re known for our undercover investigations and we lobby for animal rights.”

The event was held on the Matador Bookstore lawn and was arranged so that visitors could walk from station to station and speak to the groups they were most interested in.

“The organic booth with the (sandwich) wraps caught my attention because they’re really good and it’s all natural,” said Richard Diaz, a senior majoring in business.

The booth that delivered the sandwiches were from Organic To Go Caf’eacute;, a restaurant and catering service that provides certified USDA organic foods.

Other booths were set up to provide information on vegan and vegetarian diets. Brochures on the link between the meat industry and global warming were handed out to visitors.

After visiting at least ten booths, participants received their choice of a free T-shirt or reusable grocery bag provided by Whole Foods Market.

Visitors lined up at the booth run by Associated Students in order to receive the free merchandise, but the gear did not overshadow the true significance of the event.

“If the problem (with the environment) continues to be ignored, it’s only going to lead to bigger disasters for all of us,” said Jaclyn Marry, a senior majoring in sociology. “We need to start caring more.”

Caring for the environment and wildlife habitats is the mission of many of the organizations that took part in the fair. Each group had the chance to spread this message to students and other visitors.

“We advocate for protecting California’s native plants in the wild,” said Snowdy Dodson, chapter president for the California Native Plant Society. “We also advocate for people to plant native plants in their own gardens.”

Protecting and planting native vegetation is important because such plants are more ecologically sustainable and provide food and shelter resources for natural wildlife, said Dodson.

“Our native plants are largely drought tolerant,” said Dodson. “They’re adapted to live in our climate, so it’s a more ecologically sound way to garden.

The protection of parks and recreation areas were yet another cause visitors could learn more about, in particular the mountains surrounding Los Angeles.

“We’re anxious to see our open lands saved,” said Melba Simms, volunteer for the San Fernando Valley Sierra Club. “I’m particularly concerned about the preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains. We need to keep these wonderful parks available to the public.”

The Sierra Club was founded over 100 years ago, said Simms, and is run by volunteers and others concerned about the depletion of the land and its resources.

Keeping with the theme of protecting the environment from human abuse, a number of recycling programs were available. Freecycle, one such organization, collected goods and items from the community and distributed them free of charge to visitors.

“We encourage people to give away their objects to keep them out of landfills,” said Nikki Maxwell, local moderator for the Freecycle organization. “We have volunteers who collect the objects and we randomly distribute them into the universe.”

One beneficiary of Freecycle’s program was Norma Aceves, a senior majoring in English. She found a collection of comic books that she said her boyfriend was interested in.

Giving away objects instead of throwing them out and finding new uses for old items changes the relationship people have to the things they buy and discard, said Maxwell.

Items that the group are unable to find homes for will be sold later to raise money for a local animal shelter, thereby helping two environmental causes at once.

As the issues of climate change and environmental degradation become more prominent, events such as Earth Fair remind students that there are alternatives to destructive habits. The organizations present at this year’s event offered some of those solutions.

“Everyone here seems to be on the right track,” said Marry. “So it’s definitely imperative to keep it going.”