About 100 students and staff removed 300 pounds of waste and recyclable items April 23 from Illinois State University’s campus and the surrounding areas as part of Earth Day-related cleanup efforts.
The Office of Sustainability organized the University’s inaugural Campus Cleanup Day. “I wanted to do something that would make an impact on our campus, and bring awareness to students about sustainability by focusing on the environment and keeping it a safe and clean place to live,” said Camilla Banaszczyk, event coordinator and Office of Sustainability intern.
Groups of students were assigned to a location on campus. They were handed a white plastic bag for disposing of trash, a blue bag for disposing of recyclable items, and rubber gloves. Students cleaned their areas, which included green space, parking lots, and off-campus housing, and returned to the center of the Quad to drop off their collected waste.
Each volunteer received a neon green, event-branded shirt, a reusable Starbucks cup, and an entry into a raffle for reusable straws or silverware or Illinois State gear.
In addition to the campus cleanup, several Normal area parks and waterways received a face-lift thanks to students in Criminal Justice Sciences Professor Jacqueline Schneider’s Eco-Justice classes.
“I chose this project so the students would start to be aware of environmental conditions, begin to value the importance of their environment, and understand how their actions can have a positive impact on the overall environment,” Schneider said. “We only have one planet that is being slowly poisoned and we cannot ignore science.”
Schneider’s students went out in groups of two to four to various locations in Normal. The groups combed through tall brush with rakes to pick up trash and recyclable items along Sugar Creek, behind Epiphany Catholic School, and in Fairview Park. A few students in rubber boots even waded in ankle-deep water to remove trash.
Events like these cleanup efforts support the University’s core value of civic engagement by promoting active learning experiences where students gain awareness and understanding of community engagement as a lifelong responsibility.