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Eighth annual Earth Day Fair emphasizes sustainability with green activities

By Jingxi Zhai

April 19, 2012 12:38 a.m.

Green-minded students and faculty are gearing up for the eighth annual Earth Day Fair, which is being held today in honor of Earth Day.

The event not only celebrates the international Earth Day, but also serves to provide information on topics such as UCLA’s sustainability goals, transportation, student groups and composting, said Nurit Katz, sustainability coordinator for UCLA Sustainability. The event is co-hosted by UCLA Sustainability, UCLA Recreation and the Ecology, Economy, Equity student organization.

“We want people to find new groups to be part of, and new ways to contribute to sustainability,” Katz said.

“And, we want to show the students and faculty how UCLA is already making changes to become more sustainable.”

The event has attracted more than 1,000 people each year, organizers said. For the first time, the fair will be held at the Intramural Field, which can accommodate a larger number of people. Previously held on Bruin Walk, many groups had to share tables because of safety issues, Katz said.

Jasneet Bains, a third-year environmental science student and co-chair of E3, said more than 50 groups are hosting booths compared to around 40 groups last year.

All the booths will contain an interactive activity from various groups, including on-campus student groups, student government, departments and off-campus stores and produce markets.

Taking advantage of the larger space, E3 is adding two new events: the green chef cooking competition and the sustainable art competition.

The cooking competition will feature four teams of students competing with each other to create a vegan dish. Materials are provided by local farmers markets and the teams will be given one hour to prepare.

The dishes will be judged on creativity, sustainability and taste by a panel of professional judges, said Joanna Wheaton, co-chair of E3 and former Daily Bruin copy editor.

As part of an effort to increase vegan offerings in the dining halls, Roger Pigozzi, a judge for the panel and corporate chef for UCLA dining services, said he hopes the competition will help people understand and respect the reasons people choose to eat vegan.

“If we didn’t need to feed all the cow we raise for food, the grain we save could feed the entire population,” he said. “It’s something to think about.”

The art competition has already received nine submissions which will be put on display during the fair and judged by fellow students. All submissions were put together using recycled material.

Wheaton said she hopes the two new events will appeal to a larger variety of people.

“We’re trying to reach to people through art and cooking, and open a dialogue with them about sustainable and eco-friendly living,” said Wheaton, a third-year political science student.

Community attendance has increased each year, Bains said, as well as requests from organizations for booths.

Despite the increase in size of the fair, the goals of the fair remain unchanged, Wheaton said.

To research sustainability, the education for sustainable living action research team will be passing out surveys for off-campus students about their energy use, team member Clifford Shum said. The survey will compare off campus students’ energy use, to that of on-campus students, said Shum, a fourth-year environmental science student.

Other booths will include a tap water versus bottled water blind tasting, a denim trade-in and various games.

To further incentivize participants, the fair will continue to use a passport system, which Wheaton said has been a strong incentive in the past. Participants will receive a stamp for each booth they visit.

Receiving at least 10 stamps will allow participants to be entered into a raffle for prizes including two bikes and a $500 gift certificate to FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica.

In addition, turning in a passport will give access to vegan food options at the event.

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Jingxi Zhai
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