Beautiful ‘U’ Day activities, Earth Day hail environment

Today, students will walk all over Scott Stulen’s artwork. But the third-year graduate student said he doesn’t mind.

Stulen’s design, which highlights the Sarita Wetland in St. Paul, will be spray-painted onto the storm drains on the St. Paul campus. The message warns people of the dangers of dumping into storm drains.

“This is something that’s going to be out there every day,” Stulen said.

Approximately 125 storm drains will be painted, University officials said.

The event is one of many celebrating Beautiful “U” Day, which coincides with the international Earth Day holiday. Both days promote environmental awareness.

Sophomore Rahel Doni said Earth Day is important because it focuses on our environment.

“We are living on (Earth),” she said. “We should know about everything.”

Students and others at the University are celebrating Earth Day in different ways.

Today, students can go to the Washington Avenue Bridge or outside the St. Paul Student Center, where students from the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, Ecowatch and the Environmental Studies Club will have a table, said

Elizabeth Slagle, MPIRG’s environment and energy task force coordinator.

She said the table includes information about energy-efficient light bulbs, which she said reduce energy and cost less money to use. Also included is information about where to shop for organic food and products.

Natalie Ries, an Ecowatch member, said some students are so busy, they do not think about the environment.

“There are so many of us here at the ‘U.’ If everyone did their part, it’d make the world a lot better,” she said.

Slagle said she hoped students who do not think about the environment will be interested by the games and prizes.

The Washington Avenue Bridge will also get a face lift tomorrow. Students will don coveralls and Sherwin-Williams caps to paint the bridge.

“The bridge Ö is the lifeline of the campus,” said Lori-Anne Williams, Beautiful “U” Day coordinator. “When you’re painting the bridge, you see the progress.”

While Beautiful “U” Day focuses on the University, Earth Day looks at global issues. A new Earth Day goal is to show students that environmental conservation can benefit both “you and the Earth at the same time,” she said.

The University’s Compassionate Action for Animals chapter is hosting an Earth Day Swap. Students can exchange anything for something else, including books, clothes and office supplies, according to the group’s Web site.

“It reduces consumption and decreases environmental impact of buying products,” said Ramona Ilea, officer of the group.

For Beautiful “U” Day, students will participate in the Custodial Challenge, a competition to clean classrooms while learning what custodians do to keep classrooms orderly.

“We decided that we would challenge students to see if they could clean as well as custodians could,” said Ruthann Manlet, facilities shift supervisor and one of the event’s coordinators.

Beautiful “U” Day started in 1997. It celebrates the campus and the work it takes to keep it healthy, Williams said.

“We do a lot to keep this place healthy and green,” she said.

Earth Day started in 1969 as an idea to demonstrate and educate people at universities about environmental issues, said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network, an international Earth Day organization based in Washington.

Since then, it has grown to be an international holiday and grows more popular every year, she said.

“What started as an idea for a teach-in turned into a national day of recognition of our environmental issues,” she said.

This can be a political issue as much as an environmental one, she said. Laws that provide clean air and water standards, for instance, allow people to live a higher quality of life, Rogers said.

Earth Day is a way to recognize those issues and what needs to be taken to the next political level, she said.

“Political empowerment is really important,” she said. “That’s the other thing Earth Day is for: It’s to get people mad about what they’re facing.”