Celebrating and protecting the planet has been promoted by the University for years, but Wednesday, Planet Blue injected new energy into the spirit of sustainability with its annual EarthFest — a “Party for the Planet” that included food samples, live entertainment and the chance to win an iPad.

Music could be heard from beyond the Diag, where about 60 booths were set up to educate passersby about topics ranging from how to make environmentally friendly food purchases to guidelines for proper drug disposal.

To meet sustainability goals, the University promotes creating healthy environment, climate action, community awareness and waste prevention. Barbara Hagan, a sustainability representative with the Office of Campus Sustainability, said student groups, individual University units and outside nonprofit organizations had all come together for the sake of sustainability and to raise awareness at EarthFest.

“The University has goals to reduce our waste, to increase our sustainable food purchases, to reduce the chemicals that we put on the lawns,” Hagan said. “So all this is to bring awareness to that initiative as well as all the cool things we have on campus that are working towards those goals.”

Like Festifall and Northfest, students had the opportunity to connect with groups they might want to get involved with, including exploring volunteer positions with community organizations and joining on-campus clubs.

For example, Art and Design junior Dustin Park recently joined UMBees, a student group that works to raise awareness about the dwindling population of bees — a topic that has garnered national attention. Members also take part in a variety of activities to support healthy bee populations.

LSA senior Mary Hirt belongs to the Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars Program, part of the Graham Sustainability Institute. This learning community for juniors and seniors is a nine-credit course that, upon students’ graduation, grants its members a certificate in sustainability and provides up to $3,000 in funding for field experiences.

“I used my money to go study agroecology in Cuba this summer,” Hirt said.

She also said she particularly appreciated the educational diversity within the program.

“We come from all different backgrounds,” she said. “We have engineers, people from the English Department, International Studies, so it’s a really great community to get involved with because you get many different perspectives on the issues of sustainability.”

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