CWU organizations support sustainability for Earth Month

Courtesy of

Joshua Kornfeld, Staff Reporter

As part of 2022’s Earth Month, CWU offered a wide variety of activities around campus celebrating the importance of protecting the earth and minimizing environmental footprint. 

Kathleen Klaniecki, CWU sustainability coordinator, said that in the past Earth Day has focused around a week of activities celebrating the earth. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic many activities over the last two years had to be held virtually. 

This year, CWU was able to have a selection of in-person activities, including events such as Saturday work parties at the Wildcat Farm facilitated by Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) and the annual Yakima River cleanup.   

“The success of Earth Month is that there’s so many stakeholders involved such as SLICE, the Wildcat Neighborhood Farm, Wellness Center, Recreation and Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals (OPR), among others,” Klaniecki said. 

Klaniecki said that turnout varied from event to event. Some events were designed to foster more in depth conversations between students, while other activities, such as the Environmental Club having a showing of the Lorax, are more focused as a fun social event. 

Klaniecki highlighted that the success of Earth Month could be attributed to a wide range of  partnerships and collaboration between different clubs and organizations across campus. 

Andrea Eklund, apparel merchandising textiles and design professor, views social responsibility as a key initiative in educating students on environmental impacts. The textile and design program takes a holistic approach to understanding and teaching sustainability. 

“We touch on sustainability and how it relates to that subject area in the apparel industry within each class,” Eklund said. “It’s actually better to integrate it within each class and keep sustainability on the forefront within that subject, so students understand the importance throughout every phase and all parts of the apparel industry.” 

Eklund said that everyone can be aware and conscious of what they are buying, even if they are not interested in fashion. 

Another key aspect Eklund highlighted is understanding which brands support environmental sustainability: understanding the lifecycle of clothing,  quality of design, washing and drying. 

One way the fashion department has been supporting Earth Month is by offering several “Mend It Mondays” where students can bring in clothes and fashion students can help them fix clothing. The fashion department also supported the “Make Your Own Beeswax” event. 

“Rather than using cellophane, you take fabric and you cover it in beeswax, and you can reuse it over and over again instead of single use cellophane,” Eklund said. 

Eklund said that little impacts such as reducing the frequency and quantity of fabric softener use, washing clothes on cold, or waiting to wash clothes until they appear dirty can have a big environmental impact. 

College students are more conscious than other demographics in terms of understanding their carbon footprint, according to Eklund.  

“In the United States, we wear our clothes out by over washing and over drying. When you are throwing things in the dryer and you’re cleaning out that lint trap, that’s your fabric slowly getting thinner and thinner,” Ekland said. “Did you spill on it? Does it smell? No, then hang it up and let it air for a day and wear it again.” 

Eklund encouraged students to think more holistically about what clothing they are buying and the overall lifecycle of their clothing. 

“What are you purchasing? How often are you purchasing it? Who is the brand? How are you taking care of it? And when you’re done with it, what are you doing with it?” Eklund said. 

Students can find information about different Earth Month activities by seeing the different posters shared around campus. Klaniecki also encouraged students to follow @cwuslice, @cwuwellness and @cwurecreation to stay up to date with events around campus.