Earthkeepers is an EMU student group focused on acting in and around the EMU community to encourage environmentally-friendly practices such as recycling, composting and reducing waste and exploring ideas around simplicity and sustainable lifestyles. The group has implemented campus composting and recycling programs and each year awards sustainability mini-grants.
What we do: Earthkeepers’ central purpose is to advocate for the earth by pursuing sustainable attitudes and practices on a personal, spiritual, and social level at EMU. To realize its mission, Earthkeepers cultivates spaces on campus to inform and educate through creative dialogue which can grow into awareness and practice. Learn more about why we care.
Over the years, Earthkeepers has done a lot. In the last few years, the group has had regular weekly meetings, continued and expanded recycling programs on campus and started composting programs using student volunteer help. The group has also organized and led outdoor activities including hiking trips, field trips throughout the community and hosted panel discussions with guest speakers. Earthkeepers has hosted a "Sustainable Lifestyle Week" which consisted of various activities that incorporated local produce, the creation of homemade products, and sustainable lifestyle practices. They also hold an annual week-long event called “Food and Farming Week.” During this week, students are able to learn about and participate in farming practices and food issues that are important today. Other club activities have included:
- Pumpkin carving
- Leaf raking
- Christmas tree lighting
- Regular composting services
- Chicken care
Each year Earthkeepers hosts a sustainability mini-grant competition, with the support of the Creation Care Council to increase sustainability on campus. This competition has led to several important efforts, including the implementation of clotheslines in the dorms, compost and recycling bins throughout campus, and a hoop house and drip irrigation system.
Earthkeepers collaborates with a variety of other clubs and university departments in advocating for our causes and organizing to action. If you are interested in partnering with Earthkeepers, talk to one of us or send us an email. In the past, we have worked with these groups, among others:
- Sustainable Food Initiative
- Creation Care Council
- Chemistry Department
- Biology Department
- Campus Ministries
- EMU Facilities Management
- Campus Activities Council
- Information Systems
- Bike Club and Co-op
The History of Earthkeepers
The group began in the 1970s by students in EMU’s business department as a money-making business venture. Their idea was to make money by recycling materials – paper and some plastics – collected from EMU and the surrounding neighborhood. Legend has it this EMU student effort laid the early groundwork for what is now the Harrisonburg Recycling Program. The experience gave them practical entrepreneurial experience as they did not make as much money as they had thought they might, and so the club turned its focus to larger environmental issues.
Founding members say the name came from Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”
In recent years, the club has taken a higher-profile role on campus in reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting, and has made advancements through a partnership with Pioneer Food Service (the dining hall catering service) to compost excess leftover food each day. The club also began annual Rubbish Redemption drives, and work with the EMU Sustainable Food Initiative, on a number of projects each year, including the traditional Food & Farming Week, among other projects.