Friday, March 8, 2013

Tacoma comes together to celebrate sustainability

by Stephanie Beckman, Guest Writer
The South Sound Sustainability Expo offered more than compost and solar panels for Tacoma residents on Saturday.

Pacific Lutheran University partnered again with fellow universities and local organizations for the sixth consecutive year to sponsor the expo. Businesses and citizens came together at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center for the day to connect with vendors and attend workshops.

Bill Peregrine of Earthdance Organics covered the importance of utilizing the Puget Sound’s native plants in landscaping. Stephanie Leisle, Pierce County environmental services educator, discussed proper times for seed germination and planting while Brad Burkhartzmeyer of Sun’s Eye Power presented the basics of solar power.

Between the morning workshops, the Tacoma School of the Arts performed interpretive dances that had environmental messages.

Outside the workshop area during the presentations, the convention room was filled with 80 different vendors and organizations looking to educate the estimated 500 residents of Tacoma who attended.

Kristin Lynett, sustainability manager for the city of Tacoma, said her goals for the expo were for people to feel that Tacoma does care about sustainability and to provide citizens with avenues to become more sustainable.

"They may be interested in one particular topic, but right next to that one booth they’ll find something that they didn’t even know about," Lynett said.

PLU’s Chemistry Club had their own booth at the expo and informed attendees about the chemical attributes of everyday items such as light bulbs, fire alarms and batteries.

Jessica Wade, chemistry club secretary, said they selected which items to showcase based on the household items that are more commonly thrown away instead of recycled. "Someone that maybe doesn’t notice chemistry every day can realize that there are a lot of chemical reactions going on around them," Wade said.

Chrissy Cooley, sustainability manager for PLU, was also at the expo. While talking about what she wanted students to take away from the expo, Cooley said, "I just hope they get excited about something. You learn so much more when you’re enthusiastic and there are 80 booths there that are potential things to spark your interest."

Cooley also pointed to upcoming local events students can become involved with, such as the end of RecycleMania, a college recycling competition in which PLU holds second place, as well as the Habitat Restoration work party that is taking place on March 17.