On April 22 NYU Abu Dhabi exchanged fluorescent light bulbs for eco-friendly candles as the University celebrated Earth Day with an assortment of booths, informational talks, and song and dance.
The day started with colorful clusters of student-run booths, which were assembled in the Downtown Campus garden and provided roaming passers-by with information on water wastage, vegetarianism, and electrical consumption. At the water wastage booth, students promoted awareness about water bottle usage and urged others to be more conscious of how much plastic they consume on a daily basis. In a poignant and extremely effective demonstration, members of the NYUAD student group Ecoherence collected almost 1,000 empty plastic water bottles from rooms around campus to show the extent of student consumption.
"It shocked me to the very core," said NYUAD freshman Megan Vincent after witnessing the demonstration. "Never before had I realized how much students consume. Now that my eyes have been opened, I know I will attempt to start monitoring my water bottle usage."
At the vegetarian booth, students spoke of the adverse domestic and global effects of eating meat. The booth proudly brandished a sign-up sheet for a new NYUAD event called Meatless Mondays, during which students can gather once a week at the campus cafeteria to have a vegetarian meal. As the day progressed, the sign-up sheet became more and more crowded with names of interested students.
At one booth, students were able to send eco-friendly challenges to their friends and classmates. These challenges — which were scribbled in colorful marker and hung on a wall — involved simple changes of habit, such as taking shorter showers or turning the lights off more often.
Never before had I realized how much students consume. Now that my eyes have been opened, I know I will attempt to start monitoring my water bottle usage.
NYUAD freshman Julia Saubier, who challenged her roommate to stop the wasteful practice of getting take-out for a whole week, said that the challenges were a fun and interactive way of getting the whole student populace involved. "It was really fun and it made the day more enjoyable," said Saubier. "I feel like people are more likely to become involved in the eco-friendly movement if there is a certain social pressure involved, and the challenges incorporated that in a very effective and playful way."
Later in the day, marine biologist and NYUAD Assistant Professor of Biology John Burt gave a talk that centered on the coral reefs of the Gulf, focusing on how they have been negatively impacted by climate change and what this may mean for the future.
As the fading blues of dusk drizzled over the city, students gathered together for an intimate Open Mic: Unplugged — a talent show during which students sang and danced to only acoustic music. Food was provided by the NYUAD Baker's Guild and the Veggie Mite student group, which each offered a delicious and organic buffet of vegan options to snack on.
The Open Mic quickly morphed into a spontaneous jam session as students scrambled on stage to introduce impromptu acts, encouraging members of the audience to join in as well. Sprinkled among the sing-a-longs were ukulele, guitar, and violin acts.
Earth Day organizer Maddie Moore (NYUAD '16) was pleased with the overall success of the event. "I was extremely impressed with the level of enthusiasm of the people who came and celebrated Earth Day with us," she said. "We ended up having a really nice and relaxing evening — with the lovely surprise of rain! Overall, I'd say the laid-back atmosphere was exactly what Earth Day should be all about, and I wouldn't have realized that if it had become some huge event."
"Looking forward," added Moore. "My focus is really about keeping the momentum we gained from advertising Earth Day to the rest of the school and spreading awareness about the little changes that people can make on campus."