Recycling & Reuse Technology Transfer Center hosts Earth Week events



UNI’s RRTTC celebrates Earth Week through campus-wide sustainability initiatives, Cedar Valley historical education and environmentally conscious events for students to get involved.

UNI students had the opportunity to participate in events everyday from April 17-20, 2023 in celebration of Earth Week. The Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center (RRTTC) hosted these events as their sustainability initiatives are highlighted during Earth Week every year.

“We’ve got a series of events all month long but really focused during the week of Earth Week,” said UNI Director of Sustainability, Eric O’Brien. “We really spend this time trying to engage students that might not otherwise think about the Earth or the environment in their every day.”

Over the week, there were a variety of events set up by the RRTTC. “We try to give a good mix of things that are fun versus things that students feel they are making a difference,” said O’Brien.

On Monday, April 17, disc golf was offered at Tourist Park at 2 p.m. Students were able to get outside and learn about the history of disc golf while playing. “We offered an opportunity for students to be able to learn about disc golf and be more active outdoors,” said O’Brien. “Along with that there was some education about the history of some of our local parks in Cedar Falls and how we actually have the oldest existing 18-hole disc golf course in the whole country here in Cedar Falls.”

Cedar Falls has the oldest 18-hole disc golf course in the country. (COURTESY)

The Campus Cleanup was hosted on Tuesday, April 18. Students were able to pick up a trash bag and gloves at Dry Run Creek on Hudson and University Ave, starting the cleanup from there. Free Chad’s pizza was provided to participants after the event. 

Free bike rentals were available for a leisure bike ride on Wednesday. Students met at Gilchrist to ride around Cedar Falls. This event brought awareness to the bike rental program UNI has, allowing students to rent bikes for up to a semester. 

The big Earth Day celebration was hosted in Maucker Union On Thursday, April 20. The event had to be moved inside due to weather conditions eliminating the free bike tune ups that were going to be offered. Many local farmers were spotlighted at the event on Thursday. Beef from a farmer in Black Hawk County was used to make burgers. The Student Green Fund highlighted local honey and maple syrup to be put on cornbread muffins. Students were also able to make bicycle powered smoothies. The food and booths available are all tied back into local and sustainable consumption. O’Brien said they are, “…trying to do whole circle on everything. Bring everything local if at all possible or have a wellness component with it.” 

“I love when students get engaged and that’s hopefully something we’ll continue to ramp back up,”

— Eric O'Brien

O’Brien spoke about his favorite parts of hosting these events. “I know that during this time there’s an impact that we’re having on students,” he said. “In many cases it’s the first time that some students are thinking about this and it really is exciting to see some of the changes that they make.” O’Brien stressed the fact that students create change here on campus when they have an organized voice and a vision of what they want done. “I love when students get engaged and that’s hopefully something we’ll continue to ramp back up,” he said.

Looking forward, O’Brien will be working with groups around campus to eliminate plastic bags from all UNI Housing & Dining retail locations around campus along with creating a few programs to reduce food waste at dining halls. O’Brien also highlighted the work being done that people may not notice. UNI is transitioning to an electric fleet of mowers and ground equipment. In addition to lessening pollution, this allows groundskeepers to be more efficient since they’re able to mow while classes are in session because of the reduced noise. “Those little efficiencies, are to me, what sustainability is,” said O’Brien.

To see the work RRTTC does with groups on campus and in the community visit the Recycling and Reuse Technology Center website or their social media pages.