As April 22 marks Earth Day, East Carolina University student organizations such as ECO-Pirates and ReLeaf at ECU, speak on the importance of environmental awareness.
Robert Malpass, president of ReLeaf at ECU, said ReLeaf is a tree planting organization but partakes in other environmentally friendly events. He said as needed, the organization plants trees around campus.
“ReLeaf’s kind of motto is to plant, promote and protect,” Malpass said. “That can fall underneath trees because we are a tree planting organization, but I think it means a lot more than that.”
Malpass said he believes there will always be trash around the Grid neighborhood and the Tar River Greenway, and it disappoints him to see. He said it is difficult to clean up after others and people must learn to clean up after themselves first.
It’s important to consider every day as if it were to be Earth Day, Malpass said. He said when people volunteer, it creates a sense of awareness for other volunteer opportunities that are available in the community.
“So, there’s definitely a huge component for the volunteering aspect of it. But, just the knowledge of it that you learn of, if you pick up trash for two hours on the side of the road, you’re not going to litter anymore,” Malpass said.
ECO-Pirates President Will Shingleton said Earth Day is important to the campus community because it promotes sustainability and gives students the opportunity to become active in sustainability events.
Whether someone chooses to partake in Earth Day by picking up a piece of trash on a walk or participating in sustainability events, Shingleton said it’s important to remain aware of one’s actions.
“To me, I would say Earth Day is important because you’re just practicing mindfulness,” Shingleton said. “You know you’re just realizing that your actions have consequences, whether that’s on a personal scale or on a global scale, and you’re just appreciating what the earth has given us.”
Shingleton said the community can continue to partake in environmental awareness year-round. He said even minor changes in daily activities can make a significant impact on the earth as a whole.
There are obvious places around the Greenville and ECU community in which litter is noticeable, Shingleton said. He said this includes the confetti that lays in the campus lawn and the Grid area on weekends, though he believes the COVID-19 pandemic has helped the Grid as there have been fewer parties.
“In the lawn, we can see confetti everywhere, and especially on the Grid and on weekends, it’s really bad. COVID(-19) has helped that some, because there’s been less parties,” Shingleton said.
Sophomore communication major Alex Ficsher said he is a part of the ECU Frisbee Club, and as a part of this club, he has volunteered with many proactive activities around the area. He said he and the Frisbee Club have picked up trash and debris in various places of the area, such as the Tar River Greenway.
Fischer said while he volunteers with other individuals, ECU students, faculty, staff and the Greenville community should take the time to help clean the environment. He said it is important for individuals to participate in Earth Day activities.
“It (volunteering) kind of gets the domino effect going, so once one person sees you just like, ‘oh that's not his trash but he still picked it up,’ then they're going to want to do that, then that's going to lead to the whole community want to do that, and that's going to have a greater effect than just one area,” Ficsher said.