Green Team brings Earth Week online as COVID-19 crisis continues

May 13, 2020 — by Cici Xu

As junior Karen Lei, treasurer of Green Team, logged onto Zoom on April 22 for Green Team’s Earth Week presentation, she felt excited to discuss the impacts of climate change with her audience of 30 students. 

Unlike the past 49 Earth Weeks, this year’s annual celebration went online from April 20-24. Green Team used Instagram to post graphics, hold activities and advertise for the Earth Day Zoom presentation. 

Starting with “Meaningful Monday,” an Instagram activity where participants crafted a poster to show their appreciation for the environment, Green Team organized a theme and activity for each day of the week. On “Tasty Tuesday,” students shared sustainable recipes online. “World Wednesday” consisted of a one-hour Zoom presentation dedicated to Earth Day. On Thursday, participants were encouraged to go hiking while keeping social distance, and students “Future Friday” celebrated with discussions on future plans that could help to improve the environment. 

This year, Green Team specifically focused on the idea of “50 years ago” to recognize the changes since the first Earth Day. 

“Earth Week is aimed to help people recognize how the environment has worsened over the years and how we haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect it,” Lei said.

Many alumni, including class of 2019 alumni Annie Xu and Kiran Rachamallu and class of 2018 alumna Dasha Gouseva, joined the presentation, which explained the history of Earth Week, the progress made on protecting the environment and environmental issues that the public can help solve.

“I think it was really awesome getting to continue this tradition, and it was nice to see people come out and learn more about the earth while watching our presentation,” said junior Riya Jain, vice president of Green Team. 

Since quarantine has prevented them from organizing their traditional activities — hiking, making crafts, having speaker presentations, hosting movie events and celebrating green transportation — officers sought appropriate substitutions for these activities, so people in the community can still show their appreciation to Earth.

While there are pros and cons for an online Earth Week, most of the officers admitted that this way of organizing activities allowed the club to reach wider audiences. Still, new challenges arose. 

“The logistics of trying to coordinate and advertise a live presentation event were quite challenging,” Lei said. “We were concerned about audience members feeling disconnected from the activities because they were online, but the celebration actually went pretty well. I know some people followed our Instagram posts throughout the week.” 

Even though Earth Week was about appreciating nature and doing outdoor activities, Lei and Jain said that having it online and indoors was still worthwhile. 

“I believe that the purpose of Earth Week is to help educate the general public about the issues facing Earth today and inspire people to help make changes to benefit the environment,” Lei said. “Being online still allowed us to do that.” 

 

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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