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Students learn by staging their own environmental fair

by Heidi Klaschka

The three Rs were the order of the day: reduce, reuse and recycle. From solar-powered cars to animal testing, this environmental fair had information on it all.

Students in a course called Leisure and the Environment mounted the fair as part of their course work. "I'm disappointed I didn't advertise it more," lamented lecturer Robert Hopp. "The idea was for them just to take turns learning from each other, but they put so much effort into it."

Hopp was blown away by the detail of the booths, which included tents, stone trails, goldfish, videos and contests. The students in the Applied Human Sciences course spent three months preparing for the event, but they all said it was worth it because they had learned so much.

Lisa Rannie and Enrico Carfagnini were blending apple-carrot-celery juice, made with organically grown produce, to make people aware of the dangers of pesticides.

"I had no idea certain foods were so high on the pesticide list," Rannie said. "I've learned what foods to eat, what not to eat and what to protect children from."

"I help raise two small children," Carfagnini said, "and now, when
I look at them and what I feed
them . . . I'm killing them slowly."

According to the students' research, the government only tests 43 per cent of the 75,000 chemicals being used on foods today, and the consumer is only informed about three per cent of the pesticides used on their produce.

What can we do? Demand organically grown products so that supply will have to go up and prices will have to come down.

Richard Nayer and Jessica Lazoff undertook a publicity campaign for the Trans-Canada Trail, a 15,000-km trail being built across the country. "It's giving people a chance to enjoy the outdoors," Nayer explained enthusiastically. "People need to recognize what Canada has to offer, and preserve it."

Tina Frick and Rosa Bruzzese offered advice on how to preserve hiking trails. Frick went hiking to do his research.

What can we do? Stay on the trails. Don't break tree branches to make a fire; use the dead wood on the ground. Pack up all your garbage when you leave.

If you want children to become more environmentally-conscious, John Lozano and Amy Shah were there to help. "We weren't taught enough about it when we were growing up," said Shah, holding a bowl filled with plastic fish.

Lozano and Shah had a lot of fun ideas. What can we do? Make our own recycled paper. Go on field trips. Have nature treasure hunts outdoors.

Hopp believes people usually don't notice problems until they become involved in leisure pursuits. "If you drive over a bridge every day, you don't notice the river is polluted, but if you go fishing or swimming, you'll see the pollution."

The students examined a variety of outdoor recreational activities earlier in the year, listing the effects, pro and con, of each activity on the environment. Hopp said that the only beneficial activity to the environment, really, is working to protect it. "That doesn't mean we have to stay inside. We just have to become more politically active."

Copyright 1999 Concordia's Thursday Report.