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Earth Day highlights 'green' initiatives

Graduate students Wojciech Giziewicz (standing) and Christopher Guerra do bicycle maintenance during Earth Day activities on Kresge Oval.
Graduate students Wojciech Giziewicz (standing) and Christopher Guerra do bicycle maintenance during Earth Day activities on Kresge Oval.
Photo / Donna Coveney

Freshman Eric Mibuari watched as health sciences and technology graduate student Taro Muso sprayed WD-40 on the rear axle of his bicycle and spun the wheel. Mibuari, a resident of Simmons Hall, bikes around campus because it's convenient and "more healthy than taking the shuttle."

Bicycles are also healthy for the environment, which is why free bike repairs were part of MIT's Earth Day celebration on Kresge Oval on May 2.

By noon, the all-day event was hopping with people picking up vegetarian sushi and wraps, free organic coffee, and free plants and compost. A mock living room consisting of recycled furniture from the MIT Furniture Exchange was available for those who wanted to curl up with a free book ("Jaws: The Revenge" and "Management and Machiavelli" were available) or to donate one.

The Sierra Club and the MIT Working Group Recycling Committee were among those with informational tables set up under the tent. Karen Luxton of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment encouraged passersby to take home and plant a tiny Norway spruce, which she said would someday grow to more than 60 feet if planted outside.

Participants seemed to be having fun being green. Earth Day events at MIT were organized by Students for Global Sustainability with SAVE (Share a Vital Earth) and the Environmental Projects Task Force.

In other environmental happenings:

- In March, 12 MIT students joined about 90 students from six universities around the world in Tokyo at the annual meeting of the World Student Community for Sustainable Development. The student-run organization promotes sustainability in education, research and daily activities of future scientists, engineers and policy-makers.

At the event, the MIT students presented their research and ideas on sustainable development. "The best part was meeting so many students who care about our world, who are aware of their places in it and the consequences and responsibilities that come with that realization," said Xiaomin Mou, a graduate student in health sciences and technology. Charalamdos Soutatis, an ocean engineering graduate student, received the award for best paper for his presentation on treatments for environmental quality and sustainability issues in modern shipyards.

- MIT students are seeking to create an Institute chapter of Engineers Without Frontiers (EWF), a national student organization of 2,500 volunteers that aims to address developing communities' engineering-based challenges through partnerships that foster cultural, educational and technical exchanges. The effort to create an MIT chapter of EWF is being spearheaded by Katie Davison, a Cambridge-MIT Institute student from the United Kingdom. "It struck me that students here have a lot to offer in this field and there is an opportunity for an EWF-MIT chapter to really flourish and have an enormous impact across the world," she said.

The group's first event, held in collaboration with Students for Global Sustainability, is the first annual Earth Day seminar series on sustainable development. On May 8, Susan Murcott, a lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, will talk about her work in implementing affordable water filtration technology in Nepal, Nicaragua, Haiti and Brazil. The lecture will be at 5:30 p.m. in Room 4-237.

For more information on EWF-MIT, contact Davidson at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 7, 2003.

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