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03/28/2014

Students to Help Planet During 'Earth Hour'

This Saturday, people in more than 7,000 cities, towns and campuses around the world will click off their lights, unplug their electronic gadgets and spend an hour thinking about how to live more sustainably by reusing, reducing and recycling.

SUNY Cortland is encouraging its students to joint them.

“Earth Hour” will be observed on campus as a way to jump-start Green Days, SUNY Cortland’s month-long celebration of sustainability and environmental awareness. The event, sponsored by Cortland Students Advocating a Valuable Environment (CSAVE), will take place from 8 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 29. The initiative, which is being undertaken in 158 countries, aims to get as many people as possible to turn off their lights and electronics to conserve energy. The ultimate goal is to make the whole earth go dark for 60 minutes in a sign of unity and support for sustainable practices.

The College will encourage students to leave their residence hall rooms, turn off their lights and electronics, and gather for an hour-long event in Corey Union Exhibition Lounge.

Saturday’s Earth Hour will focus on the first “R” of the sustainability series, reuse, reduce and recycle.

“We will be teaching students how to turn plastic bags into sturdy, reusable shopping bags that they can take with them into stores without having to use waste bags,” said Katie Ingraham, assistant director of operations for residence life and housing and Green Days committee chair.

Reusable shopping bags will help minimize the production of plastic, which requires petroleum and, often, natural gas. Manufacturing both of these non-renewable resources is extremely expensive over time.

“I hope that people will learn a little bit about exactly how much materials we go through at a given time and how easy it is to be able to reuse things and do things in a more sustainable way, which is something as simple as making a reusable bag,” said Logan Cohen, a senior and president of CSAVE.

A major contributor to the sustainability month planning committee, Cohen is excited about the Green Days kick-off.

“During the black-out hour, we are hoping to persuade students to take a step back from their social media devices, unplug their electronics and join us in an event that will help benefit a great cause,” Cohen said.

He helped launch CSAVE to give students the opportunity to share one another’s thoughts and ideas on how to “go green.”

Following the “reuse” theme of the hour, participants also will be given the chance to reuse old t-shirts by tie-dyeing them. Participants also can reuse cardboard to make constellation maps that can be used during a Green Days stargazing night planned for April.

“I think that Earth Hour is a great way for students to see themselves in context with the earth around us,” Ingraham said. “We are seeing a global push for sustainability practices because our earth is growing at a rapid pace and, eventually, it’s just not going to be able to sustain us anymore.”

An open forum will follow Earth Hour. Students will be given the opportunity to share their opinions on future campus sustainability ideas in a discussion led by Matthew Brubaker, a facilities project coordinator with the heating plant, and Beth Klein, a professor of childhood/early childhood education.

“Earth Hour is a tangible thing for students because they will be able to see that this isn’t just something that people in the U.S. or at SUNY Cortland are concentrating on, rather, this is a movement across the world,” Ingraham said.

To learn more about Earth Hour, visit, earthhour.org.