Sustainability can be ‘eco-fabulous’ for all ages

Visitors to Imagine RIT exhibit will get inside look at Sustainability Institute Hall

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Ever wonder what research in sustainability is like? Visitors of all ages can obtain fun, hands-on experience with this exciting and emerging field at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival this Saturday, May 4. At the same time, festivalgoers can also get an inside look at RIT’s newly dedicated “living lab” where this exciting and important research happens.

During the “Eco-Fabulous: Homemade Science and Sustainability” exhibit, Sustainability Institute Hall—the cutting-edge facility housing the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS)—will be buzzing with child-friendly sustainability “experiments” and activities that visitors can conduct in their own homes.

“We wanted to connect what people can do at home with the kinds of sustainability research we’re doing here at RIT every day,” says Erinn Ryen, a Brighton student pursuing her Ph.D. in sustainability. “We think people will be truly fascinated by the strong connection between the education and research sides of the sustainability research here at GIS.”

Exhibits taking place on three floors of the 84,000-square-foot building’s east side will include:

  • A “green” face-painting station with paints made from sustainable products such as shortening, food coloring and corn starch.
  • A recycled crayons activity that shows how families can reuse old crayons to create ones with new shapes and colors.
  • A comparison of commercial vs. homemade cleaners that demonstrates how “green” cleaners without toxins commonly found in store-bought products can be just as effective in the home.
  • How soap made from waste cooking oil can be converted into biodiesel—a byproduct of which is glycerin, a nontoxic liquid that can be used to make soap, cosmetics and perfumes.
  • New uses for the precious metals found in electronic waste, as well as games challenging visitors to match circuit boards to their respective motherboards
  • And a demonstration on reusing fruit juice, the acidic content from which can be used as a recycling agent, according to Chelsea Bailey, a Vancouver, Wash., native who’s conducting research in the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

“We want to show people they might not be aware of the wide range of everyday products that can be reused,” says Bailey, a student also seeking her Ph.D. in sustainability at GIS. “The main focus of these exhibits is to translate the science of chemistry into tangible ways the whole family can get involved and how they can help future generations learn how to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.”

All of the products and “recipes” demonstrated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday during “Eco-Fabulous” will be available online at so the experiments can be performed at home.