14 Must-See Earth Fest Events

"Earth Fest" written over a background of an apartment building with trees growing from it to the left and a partly cloudy sky to the right.

After hosting Earth Week for the last six years, the Office of Sustainability is partnering with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to launch Earth Fest, an annual celebration of Earth Day filled with over 50 innovative, exciting, and sustainable events. 

Join a growing campus community of experts and passionate students seeking to advance sustainability initiatives and goals on campus over eight days of programming. From exploring cutting-edge research to getting your hands dirty potting plants, all members of the campus community are invited to get involved. Visit the official Earth Fest website to see the full schedule of events offered from April 19 to April 26. 

Here’s a short list of events representing this year’s broad range of activities and topics: 

Earth Fest Kickoff Celebration
Where: Discovery Building
When: Friday, April 19, 1-6:30 p.m.

Kick off Earth Fest with a fun and engaging lineup of lectures, art performances, art galleries, and networking! Keynote speaker, Tony Reames, who is a leading international scholar and government policy advisor, will present about energy justice. There will also be two panel discussions where you can learn about business and sustainability as well as UW–Madison’s new sustainability goals. 

Free Art Friday: Earth Day Celebration – Upcycled T-Shirt Bag
Where: Memorial Union, Chart Room
When: Friday, April 19, 5-8 p.m.

Join Wheelhouse Studios, an open art studio on UW–Madison’s campus, for Free Art Friday! To celebrate Earth Day, Wheelhouse will be upcycling old t-shirts and turning them into tote bags. Join from 5 to 8 p.m. at Memorial Union with all the supplies and instructions provided. Learn how you can repurpose old t-shirts and turn them into new, functional items. 

A Just Transition Film Screening
Where: Marquee Theater, Union South
When: Saturday, April 20, 3:30-5 p.m.

Become an active environmentalist through social and policy change. A Just Transitionfollows the 2023 “March 4th to Earth Day” protest in Madison, featuring footage that highlights “local perspectives and voices about environmental injustice.” The film screening will be followed by a Q&A with members of the film crew. 

Nature Hike
Where: UW Arboretum Visitor Center
When: Sunday, April 21, 1-2:30 p.m.

Join staff from the UW–Madison Arboretum for a nature hike to learn about plants, animals, fungi, phenology, and ecology. Connect with the land and learn to identify more aspects of nature. This hike may cover some sloping terrain, so wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and be prepared for the weather. 

Natural Dyes – Color From Plants!
Where: D.C. Smith Greenhouse
When: Monday, April 22, 1:45-3:15 p.m.

Join students from DS 227 – Textile Design: Print & Dye for a showcase of their natural dye experiments. Learn how bark, flowers, and leaves can be transformed into natural dyes for textiles. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in the workshop with a hands-on indigo demonstration. Be sure you dress for mess!

How Good Food Goes Bad: Understanding and Preventing Food Waste
Where: 205 Babcock Hall
When: Monday, April 22, 3-4 p.m.

Food waste has become one of the most pressing environmental concerns and a major focus of the USDA and EPA, with goals of cutting food waste in half by 2030. At this event, join the UW–Madison Department of Food Science to develop strategies to help you reduce your personal food waste. This interactive session will help you understand why good food often goes bad and what “best by” dates and other food labels mean. 

Slow Food x Scan Design Earth Day Dinner
Where: The Crossing
When: Monday, April 22, 6:30 p.m.

Join Slow Food UW and the Scan Design Foundation Fellowship Program for a Danish dining experience. Enjoy a cozy evening of food, community, and cultural exchange while supporting Slow Food’s mission of good, clean, and fair food for everyone. 

Sustainable Facility Tour of Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center
Where: Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center
When: Tuesday, April 23, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

This tour will highlight one of the newest facilities on UW–Madison’s campus, the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center. Join RecWell staff as they lead you around the facility, highlighting the sustainable practices at work within the building and the building’s operations, including bird-safe glass, reusable heat, and electric ice resurfacers. 

Earth Day Trivia
Where: The Rathskeller, Memorial Union
When: Tuesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m.

Test your knowledge with an environmentally themed trivia night hosted by the Nelson Institute undergraduate ambassadors and Campus Leaders for Energy Action Now (CLEAN). Bring your friends and participate in trivia to see how much you know about sustainability — and learn new things!

Fighting Fast Fashion: All-Gender Clothing Swap
Where: Library Mall lawn
When: Wednesday, April 24, 1-3 p.m.

The Office of Inclusion Education (OIE) will host an all-gender clothing swap to fight fast fashion. It’s estimated that Americans throw away 11.3 million tons of textiles every year, resulting in many environmental issues such as increased carbon emissions and overfilling landfills. Do your part to aid sustainable fashion and do some free “shopping” at the clothing swap! The week before the event, you can drop off any gently used clothing you may have in the main office of the Red Gym (room 217) to help OIE stock up for the swap.  

Plant Give Away
Where: Allen Centennial Garden
When: Wednesday, April 24, 3-5 p.m.

Bring your own mug to the Allen Centennial Gardens and transform it into a pot for houseplants and herbs. Allen Centennial Gardens will provide the soil and plants (while supplies last). This is a perfect way to kick off your own home garden or make an addition to your plant collection. 

Sustainability Research Networking and Brainstorming
Where: Memorial Union, Old Madison
When: Wednesday, April 24, 3-4:30 p.m. 

The university has recently launched the Sustainability Research Hub, with services aiming to alleviate financial and administrative barriers to sustainability collaboration and coordination. Network with fellow researchers at Memorial Union and participate in facilitated discussions around sustainability. Build your connections and discuss new “research topics, challenges, solutions, and resources.” 

Roadmapping Sustainability in the Wisconsin School of Business
Where: 3290 Grainger Hall
When: Thursday, April 25, 5:30-7 p.m.

Gather with business school leadership, faculty, and students while joining the Social and Environmental Business Advocates (SEBA) as they discuss sustainability in the Wisconsin School of Business. Topics include the progress the business school has made on sustainability initiatives, current and future opportunities for sustainability curriculum, and the opportunities to overcome the challenges that stall further progress. 

Zero Waste Workshop
Where: 280 Science Hall
When: Friday, April 26, 9:30-11 a.m. AND 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Join in for an interactive and inclusive discussion designed to shape the university’s future as a zero waste campus. Provide feedback on UW–Madison’s draft zero waste action plan and help refine the universities strategies to make a meaningful impact on campus sustainability. The zero waste workshop will be offered twice on Friday April 26, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.

By: Maddy Doeden