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UF celebrates 40 years of Earth Day

By Brenton B. Brown

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 7:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 7:45 p.m.
Plants, prizes, speakers and awareness were all in abundance Wednesday on the Plaza of the Americas at University of Florida as students and faculty took part in Earth Day 2010.


As part of a sustainability campaign called “40 Days of Change,” student organizations, local businesses and the local residents teamed up to bring awareness to people on campus about living a greener lifestyle.

The event included booths set up by student-run organizations such as Gators Going Green and local government agencies such as the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.

“We want to let students and faculty know about the things being done on campus and in the community to help them to practice greener living,” said Office of Sustainability Director Anna Prizzia. Representatives from Gators Going Green teamed up with Gators for a Sustainable Campus to sell T-shirts completely made from recycled material. They also collected T-shirts to donate to the local Goodwill.

Students from the American Solar Energy Society also participated in the event, with club president Sam Shams and two club members showcasing their solar-powered bicycle.

While they don’t have plans to market the design because of schoolwork, Shams said he and fellow club members will continue to refine the bike’s design, which already comes equipped with iPod and phone chargers, as well as storage for books and small groceries.

“Right now, the bike travels up to 25 mph, and we plan to design a carbon-fiber body kit for it,” he said.

The Earth Day celebration — held a day in advance of Earth Day since classes ended Wednesday at UF — also included a five-speaker panel of business, health-care and government representatives who spoke about the ways people could be environmentally friendly at their jobs.

Randall Reid, Alachua County manager, told the audience that they should look into ways waste could be reused in their daily lives and at their jobs.

“If you can solve a corporate problem environmentally, your employer is going to look at you as the ‘golden employee,’ ” said Reid.

Reid said he believes people are spiritual by nature and that if we aren’t proactive in being environmentally friendly, we’ll lose our “sense of place.”

“We have to adapt to sustainability like a lens,” he said. “Look at what you’re doing and find a way to create a synergy so that both you and the environment are better off.”