Students may believe that Rider is a very green place. The school recycles, there are signs in the bathrooms reminding students to turn off the water and lights when they are not in use, and printers can be set to print on both sides of the page. But, on the College Sustainability Report Card, Rider University got a “C.” This means that, while we have made progress, there is still a long way to go before getting that “A.”
One of the grades that went into our average was a “D” in the Green Building category. According to Dr. Laura Hyatt, associate professor of biology, when the school was graded, West Village was still not certified green. If the school were to be re-graded once we receive certification, this grade would improve. And while West Village is the first green building on campus, there are plans for more. Still, the other buildings on campus use a lot more energy than they should.
An informal poll conducted by The Rider News across both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses found that students are aware of their environmental impact. Out of 150 students, 80 percent said that they turn off their lights when they are not using them, and recycling came in a close second, with 77 percent. The fact that recycling does not have even higher numbers is surprising. The trash rooms in all of the residence halls are marked so that students know exactly what goes in them. Paper, plastic, cardboard and bottles all have their own cans, and are for those products only.
The fewest students — 40 percent — said that they have used fabric bags that can be used repeatedly instead of plastic bags. Stores such as Target and Wal-Mart sell them for a very low price, and Rider even gave away green reusable bags at Cranberry’s for Sustainability Day. Some stores that sell these bags also give you a small discount every time you use them, so this is good not only for the environment, but for your wallet.
Also, more students should look into carpooling, especially commuters. Based on the poll, 62 percent of students carpool at times. That is useful because it reduces gasoline consumption, eliminates the hassle of finding a parking spot, and, of course, lowers the amount of air pollution.
Some things that 12 percent of students volunteered on the poll, though they were not asked, are also of great help to the environment. A few changed their methods of transportation, investing in a hybrid car or a bike, or committing to walking instead of driving. One student even said that she brushes her teeth in the shower to conserve water wasted at the sink.
Several said that they use reusable water bottles, which is definitely a positive. Students should get a reusable bottle to reduce the number of bottles thrown out, and Rider can make this even easier. Even though there are water stations throughout campus, there is still a big location that Rider has forgotten: residence halls. Students drink the most water when they are relaxing in their rooms, and that is when plastic water bottles are most likely to be used. The school should look into getting water stations in all residence halls to significantly reduce the number of bottles being thrown out.
Melissa Greenberg, Rider’s sustainability coordination manager, also says that computer printing is a major issue. Even though printers in Moore Library are automatically set to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, some printers are unable to print double-sided, which just wastes paper.
Turning off the lights would save a large amount of energy used on campus, but not as much as if students turned off and unplugged electronic devices when they are not being used. Just over half of the students polled said that they turn off their electronics such as televisions, computers and printers when they are not using them.
“If students can just do these things, the amount of energy spent in each room would be greatly lowered, and that would change our carbon footprint,” said Greenberg.
To view the full report card and see exactly how Rider fared against other schools, visit www.greenreportcard.org.
This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.