Memorial Union hosted Scorch on the Porch on Earth Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22.
Kristine Hicks, energy and sustainability manager at Washburn’s Facilities Services Department, organized the Earth Day Fair for the biggest Scorch on the Porch yet.
“This is the first time we’ve done it to this extent,” Hicks said. “Last year the Union did bring some attention on Earth Day, but this is the first year we brought in as many vendors as we did.”
A number of campus organizations and student groups attended the event. The Ecobods, a student organization focused on environmentalism, were giving away plants in exchange for donations. Bods Feeding Bods promoted The Exchange, an on-campus food pantry. The Ichabod Shop had a sale. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center presented an obstacle course featuring a giant inflatable Earth.
Earth Day Fair brought companies and organizations from off-campus as well. Habitat for Humanity provided information about the re-use of furniture. Shawnee County Master Gardeners and Shawnee County Extension Compost tabled a presentation on composting. Marta Harding, human resources generalist at Asset LifeCycle, attended the event to teach students about the service Asset LifeCycle provides.
“It’s an electronic recycling company here in Topeka, Kansas,” Harding said. “We offer services to businesses in Kansas for recycling their electronics, either obsolete or surplus. Washburn processes all their e-waste through us.”
By recycling non-biodegradable electronics, Asset LifeCycle keeps that waste in a closed loop and out of the environment.
“We can re-market our equipment if it’s in usable condition,” Harding said. “Anything that cannot be re-marketed will be sent to our facility where we have a shredder the size of a football field. We process all that material that is in the end of life and we can get different types of metals and plastic.”
The event also welcomed Topeka Metro Bikes, Westar Energy, Kansas Organization of Recyclers, US Bank, United Way and City of Topeka Sustainability Board.
The Ragged Few, a folk rock band based out of Kansas City, entertained attendees, who were kept well-fed with a taco bar and free cookies.
“The [Scorch on the Porch] is fun because it gets people who haven’t gone into the Union more involved in the Union,” said Janet Schneider, who works for university scheduling and event planning. “They hear the music, they see the activity and they want to come over and join in.”
In addition to providing entertainment, the primary goal of the event was to educate the community about sustainability efforts in Topeka and encourage environmentally friendly living.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do since I started working here,” Schneider said. “We should have one of these Earth Day fairs to bring in community members, students and faculty together, all for the same reason: to learn more.”
Hicks hopes that students will reach out to Facilities Services and get involved with Washburn’s sustainability program.
“We’re working toward making the campus more sustainable and we have projects all the time that they can become involved with,” Hicks said.