One Planet Day puts twist on Earth Day tradition

Katherine Wade

WKU students are challenging their campus community to help make this Earth Day different.

Earth Day, which takes places on April 22, is a 41-year-old tradition of promoting awareness and appreciation for the environment. This year, WKU students are celebrating by launching a campaign called One Planet Day.

Matt Vaughan, a senior from Mexico, Mo., said One Planet Day is an effort by WKU students to re-imagine Earth Day.

“The goal is to take Earth Day from this routine, annual celebration and turn it into a unique challenge … to make tangible commitments for more sustainable action,” Vaughan said.

To give students an opportunity to plan events for Earth Day, the WKU Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility created a One Planet Day course.

One Planet Day is based on a set of 10 principles of sustainability established by BioRegional and the World Wildlife Fund. The principles are zero carbon, zero waste, sustainable transit, sustainable materials, sustainable food, water, health and happiness, culture and heritage, fair trade and the local economy, and land and wildlife.

The goal of the event, according to, is to “take the tradition of Earth Day to the next level, by challenging individuals to make pledges of concrete action towards living within the means of our one planet.”

Louisville freshman Molly Kaviar said she took the One Planet course because she wanted to be a part of helping on Earth Day.

Kaviar said she hopes asking students to commit to sustainable action for a day will change their lives.

“Earth Day is sort of a reminder of how we should be living regularly,” Kaviar said. “If people see how easy it is to do for one day, maybe they’ll start to do it more often.”

The One Planet Day Festival will take place at the Downing University Center courtyard and Centennial Mall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. The festival will include live music, speeches and opportunities for sustainable action.

Vaughan said supporters wanted to host a big event to reignite the spirit of activism and community on campus.

“There is a real need on this campus to just get everyone active and interested in sustainability and social justice,” he said.

Upon arrival to the festival, visitors can get a card listing each of the 10 principles. There will be tables spread across campus where participants in the festival can get each principle stamped for completing a sustainable action. For example, there will be tables in each of the dorms, and if a resident brings down recycling, they will get “Zero Waste” punched on their card.

Once all 10 principles on a persons’ card are punched, they can be entered into a raffle. The winners will be announced at the International Night at 7 p.m. in DUC.

Vaughan said the whole concept of One Planet Day comes down to the fact that everyone is in this together, sharing the same planet.

“At the end of the day, regardless of a persons’ political ideologies, their faith or lack thereof, most people would tend to favor a healthy and happy future for all of us,” he said. “So with one day, we can try to move a step further on the path to that better future.”