Planned Programming: Earth Month in Your Dorm!

If you are passionate about the Earth, sustainability, or other related topics and want to get folks in your campus housing on the same page, here are some ideas for great events you may want to plan!

By Justina Thompson — April 25, 2023

Planned Programming: Earth Month in Your Dorm!

April is here, believe it or not, and that means another welcoming of spring and celebration of Earth! Although some folks wait until April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day, others spend the whole month intentionally spending time outdoors, being earth-conscious, and educating others on how to do the same! A key part of living in a more harmonious relationship with the Earth is building strong relationships with the people around us! Building change as a community will make a much stronger impact than doing so as an individual. Intentionally planning small-scale programming allows for deeper relationship building and even program retention-meaning folks are more likely to return for another events!

Colleges naturally support small-scale community building by grouping students into different housing, so why not utilize this for intentional programming as well! If you are passionate about the Earth, sustainability, or other related topics and want to get folks in your campus housing on the same page, here are some ideas for great events you may want to plan in April! Where applicable, feel encouraged to ask your RA, Residence Life, or your campus office for Extra Curricular Activities to funding support! The worst they can do is say no!

Clean-Up Day

It can be hard to truly appreciate something in its natural state when it's covered all in trash! Campuses may have robust staff to clean up, but as you wander closer to the campus/community edge, you may not find the same true. Looking for a reason to adventure out into the greater community with friends? Organize a clean-up day with folks in your dorm, and note what's around while you're at it! Are there a lot of trash and recycling receptacles available? Are there a lot of trees providing shade and coverage? These are some base-level indicators that can share about a community's sustainability patterns. Additionally, cleaning up is a great way to have a new appreciation for a neighborhood in its best state.

If there are other nature-based organizations in the area, there may be an organized tree or native planting day or even some trail maintenance! These have similar goals of community beautification and accessibility and would be a great way to show appreciation for the Earth with folks in your living quarters!

Sustainability 101 — What's In My Bag

We've seen the trend of 'Get Ready With Me, 'What's In My Bag,' and 'My Daily Essential' videos become more popular on social media, so why not do the same with a sustainability spin? When I was an RA, this was one of my first programs, and I showed off my mason jar, which I was using as a water bottle, my stainless steel straws, wooden utensils, and likely an extra container to take home from any campus event that may have leftover food! I also highlighted other things I kept in my dorm, such as bees wrap, a sustainable alternative to cling wrap! This event is low stakes and can happen in any common gathering space. It's also a great way to introduce folks to easy sustainable swaps while they're on campus! Pair any key items with opportunities for engagement on campus- like water bottles (or major jars!) With main water bottle filling stations on campus!

Cook-Off! Or Cook Together!

Highlighting local, seasonal, or plant-based ingredients are three ways to make food choices a bit more sustainable. Introducing new ingredients in small, fun, and tasty ways can help create positive memories and make it more likely to try them again later! Sourcing local and seasonal foods help to support a local economy and reduce emissions by choosing food that doesn't have to travel as far! While one meal may not make a difference, creating a culture of awareness among a small community can influence small lifestyle changes with the potential for big ripple effects! Although vegetarian and vegan eating is not for all, incorporating more plant-based options is excellent for general human and Earth health!

Our instinct is usually not to look for these kinds of ingredients to shape our meals or recipes, but a cooking session is perfect for bringing attention to these choices! Plan a collective multi-course meal or potluck dinner by ] challenging folks in your dorm to center on a local, seasonal, or plant-based ingredient! Have them bring a dish (or recipe card) with ingredients and a fun fact about how their dish is shaped by sustainability! If a spirit of competition is strong in your dorm or campus housing, challenge folks to bring a dish with these sustainable ingredients to be ranked for a winning prize! Bragging rights are always a valid prize to give, but if funding allows, think about a gift card to a local food shop!

Enjoy Nature

Enjoy Nature One of the simplest ideas for showing love to the Earth during the month of April is to spend time in it! No digging to find the center of the Earth is necessary, but nature immersion is a great delight! Alltrails is one amazing resource to find local walking and hiking trails and is a nice way to get some movement in with the trees and non-human kin of the Earth! Nature immersion is not only an excellent way for folks to reset, but it also helps support connection to self and grounding!

Stepping away from the everyday stresses of lectures, notes, studying, and exams, even for just a few hours, is often a necessary reminder that there is a world outside the classroom and our textbooks. It's also a great reminder that we're human and have needs like sunshine to feel good! When in a small group, you can add some mindfulness prompts or discussion questions to think about during the hike! You may even want to bring a small speaker and listen to a podcast to discuss after the hike or just some good tunes!

I've always been lucky to live and attend school near some body of water, and so other forms of nature immersion included kayaking or spending a day at the waterfront, lake, or river with a picnic! If the geography around your campus allows, this might be another great way for a small group of students from your dorm to enjoy nature and appreciate all it has to offer! Did you know watching flowing water is so captivating to the human eye because it's one of the unpredictable patterns of nature? Allow yourselves to get lost in the flow!

Some of these events may take more planning than others, but don't be overwhelmed! Sustainable change will come in small, slow steps based on deep relationships. These are just a few suggestions for small group programming in Earth Month, but as long as the efforts are based on connection to people, Earth, and consciousness, it can be considered in the spirit of the Earth! So go forth and be inspired by earth consciousness this April!

Justina Thompson

Justina Thompson

Justina "Farmer J" Thompson is the Farm Education and Volunteer Manager at Urban Creators, Philadelphia, PA. Justina intentionally attended school in Philadelphia so she could “connect her passion and experience to the ongoing environmental justice work in the area.” As a speaker, educational curriculum designer, program leader, and community organizer, Justina possesses extensive knowledge on urban farming inspired to work in the field of environmental justice from a young age.
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