Iowa City Stories

May 13, 2010

Earth Day in Iowa City

Filed under: IC Stories: Coons, Recycling, Iowa City Stories — jnc0420 @ 11:23 am

If the turnout for Earth Day: Celebrating 40 Years! is any indicator for how much Iowa Citians care about recycling, we’re screwed.

Earth Day Meeting

The event, held on April 22 at the Iowa City Public Library, featured four local guest speakers and felt more like PR for the Iowa City Sierra Club than an event that was supposed to inform the audience of what they can do to help.

Including the guest speakers, 22 people were in attendance, scattered through a meeting room that was set up to seat well over 50.

The topics ranged from a history of Earth Day, energy conservation and a student perspective on environmental causes. The event ended 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, concluding with a poem, read by North Central Junior High Student, Amy Shun.

Not a word was spoken regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The most interesting speech was delivered by Abbie Gruwell, an intern at Sustainability at Iowa.

Regarding recycling and maintaining a healthy eco-footprint, Gruwell said, “This is the issue of my generation. At this point, it isn’t even an option … we don’t get to choose, it just has to be done.”

She added that students do show initiative to recycle if given the option. I couldn’t help but wonder if she’s ever been on campus the weekend after finals when myriads of recyclables are tossed into dumpsters and furniture abandoned on curbs.

Gruwell also attended the Copenhagen Climate Summit held earlier this year. I wondered how much the jet fuel calculated into her eco-footprint.

Cynicism aside (I had just spoken with anti-recycler, Mike Sammons) Gruwell spoke of great ideas for Iowa City: Namely, a bike-exchange program that would allow students to rent bikes from the Bike Library for a specified amount of time.

During the meeting, Conservation Chair of the Iowa City Sierra Club, Jim Baker, (who made it clear that, yes his name is Jim Bake and no, he is not a convicted televangelist) applauded Environmental Advocates, the longest lasting environmental group in Iowa City for its 30 years of dedication to such issues as; yard pesticides and curbside pick-up for recycling.

Outside of the Meeting Room

Upon conclusion of the meeting, we filtered outside, where Iowa City was hosting RiverFeast. Could there be a more appropriate day for local businesses to peddle food to residents while disposing high volumes of Styrofoam, paper and plastic utensils?

To put the cherry on the sundae, many of the items were set adrift in the April breeze, sent to drift aimlessly through the community. On Earth Day!

I couldn’t help but wonder how those at the meeting genuinely felt that they were making a difference when, the moment they left the meeting room, they were confronted with the waste of their community.

For more on Iowa City Recycling, check out Recycling: A Waste of Time? and Reckless Abandon: The Sad Truth of Recycling in Iowa City

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