Johns Hopkins marks Earth Day with campus-wide celebration

Sustainability-minded student groups, JHU offices and departments, and local environmental organizations banded together for a day of reflection and festivities as Johns Hopkins University hosted a campuswide Earth Day extravaganza on Wednesday.

"It's a look back on what we've done during the year, a look at our triumphs, and an opportunity celebrate the successes we've had," said Nemo Keller, a sophomore member of Real Food Hopkins, a student group devoted to bringing local, sustainable, humane, and fair food to JHU. Among the successes: the news that university has achieved a 35 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over five years, released in conjunction with the celebration.

"Hopkins is at the forefront of sustainability," Keller said. And Earth Day granted the perfect opportunity to show the community some of the behind-the-scenes action.

Students from Baltimore City Public Schools flocked to the Beach, bringing with them recyclables to add to the temporary "River of Recyclables" art installation. They traveled from stand-to-stand, playing waste-sorting corn hole and recycling trivia. The department of Housing and Residential Life used their own recyclables as giveaways—sunflower seeds, duffle bags, cups—all spare goodies found around the office. Students for Environmental Action hosted a tie-dye station that used all-natural ingredients.

Across the way, students and celebrity chefs from Bon App├ętit teamed up for Veg Fest, a cooking competition featuring veggie-centric items.

"It's great for people to show interest and learn about the little things you can do to be sustainable. If you can start to make small changes, it adds up," said Sarah Ragen, the student employee behind Homewood Recycling's Cornelius character, a cornstalk that wanders around campus teaching students how to sort their waste.