April 20, 2009 by Denise Nava Round UpWith the idea of “going green” becoming more popular these days, the Organization of Aggie Students Inspiring Sustainability (OASIS) of NMSU sponsored and celebrated Earth Day 2009 this past Saturday at Young Park along with the Las Cruces and NMSU community.Inviting several local programs and other NMSU organizations to join the celebration, OASIS provided visitors with several different ways and options to live a more sustainable life-style.
“We’re at a really critical place on planet Earth right now and I think that as a local and global community we need to start living more consciously,” said Colleen Boyd, OASIS vice president and agronomy major. “We need to start thinking and being more mindful about the decisions that we make and how what we’re consuming because the state of environment and the economy is basically depending on us.”
Due to the grant proposed by OASIS last semester and approved by the New Mexico Department of Border Health, Earth Day 2009 was complete with more space, food, music and vendors for this year’s celebration, Boyd explained.
“Well, because of the grant, we’ve had a lot more money, which allowed us a lot more freedom at a different park,” Boyd said. “I think just the progression with the people last year to this year has changed.”
Lasting from 1:30 to 10 p.m., the celebration had several social and environmental organizations that provided interactive booths and local artists for people to enjoy.
Some local vendors who were a part of the event included: the Southwest Environmental Center, the Mountain View Co-Op, the World Wildlife Federation, the Mesilla Valley Habitat Humanity Restore and Keep Las Cruces Beautiful.
Boyd explained last year’s event was the very first Earth Day celebration sponsored [by OASIS], which people were a little hesitant and mysterious about, but this year people are realizing how successful last year ended and wanting to participate in this year’s cause.
“There’s been a lot of improvement since last year,” Boyd said. “I think it’s awesome and I hope it continues to get bigger and better. I’m ecstatic about it. Earth Day should be every day and it’s fun to have one big party for planet Earth.”
Alma Pacheco, co-president of OASIS and geography major, said Earth Day was important to celebrate because it’s a great way to spread awareness about preserving the Earth.
“Nature is something people should interact with,” Pacheco said. “When it comes to nature, people can come together for the same cause.”
By teaching people how to live a more sustainable life in Las Cruces, the Earth Day celebration was a way for vendors and programs to give out more information on living ‘more green,’ Boyd said.
Kool Smiles, a general dentistry in Las Cruces, provided children with the chance to plant one flower seed in a Styrofoam cup.
After planting the seed, children were asked to take care of the cup until the flower fully bloomed. Then the child was asked to bring the cup back to the dentist office.
Next, Kool Smiles will donate the bloomed flower to a local senior citizen center.
“It’s great to merge the Las Cruces community and the NMSU campus, especially to heighten the awareness of Earth Day,” said Lupe Zaragoza, a film major and OASIS member.
An NMSU chartered club since last year, Boyd explained OASIS chose a more central location this year so they could attract not just the campus community, but also the Las Cruces community.
“Part of being more sustainable and having a more sustainable Las Cruces is that we need to start working together more and together, we can share a common vision,” Boyd said.
Also a part of the celebration was the Habitat for Humanity Restore, which provides a different option for people’s old junk.
Ed Pollock, store assistant manager, said people can donate any old item they want to get tossed to the Restore and in return they will sell it for a cheaper price.
All proceeds earned go to the construction of new homes for Las Cruces residents who cannot afford to build a new home.
“Recycled items that might have gone to the dump are now new things to other people,” Pollock said. “The Restore is an amazing opportunity for people who cannot afford new furniture or other types of things.”
Pollock said those unused items are piling up in the dump every day, so recycling items through the Restore is a great way to preserve the Earth.
Stephanie St. Amand, OASIS co-president and biology and French major, said it was really important for people to be educated about how cost effective it is to be sustainable.
“Being sustainable is not expensive and it doesn’t cost a lot to be green,” Amand said.
Boyd said there are many simple things a person can do to stay ‘green.’
“People can recycle, use less water, shut off the lights when they are not using them, ride a bicycle and walk more,” Boyd said. “These are all cheap and easy things that everyone can do. Buying produce at the farmer’s market and shopping at the co-op are very easy things that can really have an impact if everybody starts participating.”
Boyd said people tend to think because they are only one person they cannot make a difference, but she said it is really all those people combined that make a really big difference.
“I think Earth Day is obviously really hard work for everybody that’s involved in the planning process, but the outcome is hopefully reaching at least one person to lead a more sustainable life,” Boyd said. “This is worth all the hard work and the commitment if one person leaves Earth Day saying ‘I’m going to start recycling or build a compost pile.'”
Other events during the celebration included: an artistic recycling contest for elementary and high school students and a solar powered oven was available for kids to bake cookies.
“Earth Day is important in getting people together to raise consciousness about sustainability and open the market for green technology,” said Chris Arrigo, OASIS member and environmental science major.
El Paso couple, Humberto and Cynthia Diaz, said they read about the Earth Day celebration on the Internet and decided to participate so they could expose their kids to the cause.
The couple said they wanted to learn more about gardening, but without using a large amount of water.
The celebration continued into the late hours of the night and had musical performances every hour until 10 p.m.
Boyd said if students are interested in any aspect of sustainability whether it’s environmental, economical or social, OASIS is a great outlet for students to voice their concerns.
“Students should get involved,” Boyd said. “It’s our future and we should create it. There are a lot of things we can do especially if people are concerned about living on a healthier planet.”