A greener way of living

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POPCORN: Students Alana Vialgi and Ramon Huerta wait for the first kernels to shoot out from a bicycle-powered air popper.

Sustain-a-Palooza raises environmental awareness, healthy choices.

Dozens of plants, including tomatoes, squash, watermelon and bok choy overflowed from the booth sponsored by a group of environmentalists.

But they weren’t picked from a distant farm, they were grown in the green house atop Russell Hall.

“I was not a believer. I’m not a gardener, and I don’t have a green thumb, but CAPES taught me how to be sustainable,” said Club President Crystal Castillo, who now gardens at home and hardly goes to the supermarket for food.

CAPES was just one of a dozen clubs celebrating Sustain-a-Palooza by showing students that sustainability means more than just recycling.

The event, featuring sleek new hybrid cars, repurposed clothes for sale and a keynote speech by Mayor Miguel Pulido, has been in the works for more than a year.

“We noticed that everybody sells the same thing every year; water bottles and chips, so we wanted to show everyone how simple it is to change,” said Castillo, whose club developed the sustainable theme for this year’s club Springfest.

Sustainability has come a long way, Pulido said.

“I remember when I was growing up in this community, we couldn’t see the Santa Ana Mountains on most days. It used to be that we couldn’t play because the air was so dirty during recess in elementary school, we’d have to stay in the classroom,” Pulido said before unveiling a plan to boost bicycle ridership throughout the city.

But at Sustain-a-Palooza the Engineering Club attempts to show students that bikes aren’t just for peddling around town.

A pulley system hooks a stationary bike to an alternator and car battery that powers an
air popper while volunteers pedal for popcorn.

After working himself sweaty, one volunteer cyclist collapsed to the ground.

“We should have gotten someone from track for this,” he said, panting for air.

“But it works great for charging cell phones,” student Alana Vialgi interjected, holding up her sustainably charged cellphone.

POPCORN: Students Alana Vialgi and Ramon Huerta wait for the first kernels to shoot out from a bicycle-powered air popper.


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