The Denton Community quad was bustling during the annual GreenFest Thursday evening.
About 1,000 students meandered through the booths and sustainability demonstrations in one of the quieter corners of campus. Freshman Kelly Parisi said the commotion was a welcomed sight.
"It's kind of cool how many people are actually here," said Parisi, a physiology and neurobiology major and Easton Hall resident. "When you walk past here, usually you're the only ones."
GreenFest, the Department of Resident Life's annual sustainability festival, aims to educate University of Maryland students on the benefits of sustainability and ways to lead a greener lifestyle.
"It's a social event combined with education and learning," said Lisa Alexander, Oakland Hall resident director and one of the event's organizers. "You get to know people from the community as well as student groups that are on campus."
The fifth annual event drew more interest than the inaugural festival, which about 800 people attended, Alexander said. Student group participation was minimal in the early years, but now organizers have a continuous stream of student and organization volunteers.
"We're a lot bigger. The first event was very small," Alexander said. "More people have heard about us and we've touched base with them to be a part of it."
Sixteen student and campus organizations — including Circle K, MaryPIRG and the Residence Hall Association's Sustainability Committee — set up booths at this year's festival. BikeUMD gave maintenance demonstrations about every 45 minutes, and students could participate in a free clothing swap and listen to live music from university student Hayley Fahey.
One of the more popular attractions was the Terp Farm demonstration on homegrown sprouts. Allison Lilly, Dining Services assistant director of new initiatives, said the activity was meant to promote some of the new and older features Dining Services' Green Dining program has to offer, such as Terp Farm and the university farmer's market, and to garner interest in jobs within Dining Services.
"What we're doing is we're having folks sprout their own sprouts," Lilly said. "We've got some seeds, and we've got some mason jars so people can actually sprout those little yummy alfalfa sprouts right at home."
Another major feature of the festival was the sustainability pledges that organizers had students fill out. Additionally, Green Squad Challengers — participants in Resident Life's environmental Green Squad Challenge — were entered in a raffle according for prizes such as a new bike helmet, a bike lock, a reusable water bottle and an energy-saving power strip.
"The pledge they have you take at certain booths, I think, is a good way to get people thinking about sustainability and the small things they can do," said Tiffany Bamdad, a senior physiology and neurobiology and psychology major. "And it's a plus that you get free stuff. It's kind of like a little incentive to get the message out."