Environmental decisions drive students

By Laura Mortkowitz

In the past year, Rider has taken giant steps toward making its campuses more sustainable with a variety of new measures (no more trays in Daly’s) and activities (the Climate Ride). Now it’s up to the students to take action.

One student who has already answered the call is senior Amanda Pinto, a member of the sorority Alpha Xi Delta (AZD). This year, Pinto began implementing changes in her sorority house when she realized the Greek community was accidentally being left out of Rider’s green changes.

“Over the summer I decided this would be a good way to help do our part and help Rider go green,” she said.

Through work with sustainability coordination manager Melissa Ross, Pinto came up with a list printed on 30 percent recycled paper and then hung copies around her house.

She plans to attend Sustainability Steering Committee meetings in order to bring back ideas.

“I’m meeting with Kevin Foster [house director of Greek Life] next week to try to get a subdivision of the sustainability group for the Greeks so we can try to reach out to the entire Greek

Another change Pinto wants is to replace plastic foam plates with biodegradable ones.

“Girls, they use a plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they don’t realize: there’s 60 of us using three plates a day and they use plates for snacks,” she said. “We go through thousands of plates a week and it takes forever for the Styrofoam to degrade.”

Ross is already looking into getting inexpensive china and cups for the Greek houses. She’s also in talks with facilities to put meters on the buildings so they can measure the electricity and water usage in the buildings. Foster, along with Ada Badgley, director of Greek Life, wants to turn the building meters into a contest to see who can waste the least amount of energy.

“We would start it with the Greek Houses, but we want to extend it to the other residence halls as well,” she said. “That would be our little test, just because they asked for it.”

Eventually, all the buildings will have meters so that, as fixtures are adjusted to be more energy-efficient, Ross can document what kinds of impacts are made.

Many members of AZD have individual water bottles they refill from their water dispenser instead of buying water bottles. On Sustainability Day, which takes place on Oct. 22, Ross plans to hand out more than 1,000 water bottles. There will also be two sample water-filtration units from Quench: one in the Student Recreation Center (SRC) and one in the Bart Luedeke Center.

“We’re going to be doing a study and see how people like these units,” Ross said.

Still, one of the biggest problems on campus, and the one that students have the most control over, is commuting, said Dr. Laura Hyatt of the Biology Department.

“I’ve seen people drive from their sorority house to the SRC to work out,” she said. “Students who go home on the weekend are generating a lot more CO2 than those who stay at school.”

Now, students with an interest in the environment will have a unique opportunity in a job new to campus this year. Eco-Reps are paid students who complete sustainability tasks they or others have thought of. Since this is Rider’s first year with Eco-Reps, they will also be writing a manual to be used in future years.

“There are Eco-Reps on other college campuses,” Ross said. “[After] speaking with a group of them from Princeton University, they’ve actually agreed to meet with our brand new Eco-Reps over here and give them some pointers and training and share their ideas with them and different things that they do and different events that they have.”

This opportunity will give students a great deal of knowledge about sustainability and the environment.

“Understanding the impact [of waste] is really important for those looking for jobs in the next few years,” said Hyatt. “CEOs are looking for people with knowledge in the area.”

There are still other things students can do to help, such as turning off lights, using reusable bags to do shopping, eating more vegetables and even cutting just one minute off their showers.

After just a month of the girls of AZD shutting off bathroom lights and recycling, Pinto has seen the results. The first step was making them aware.

“There’s no cost to conserving resources,” Hyatt said. “There’s a huge cost to taking no action.”

The Sustainability Steering Committee meets today at 12:30 p.m. in Rm. 108 in Science Hall. Anyone with suggestions on making Rider more sustainable should contact Melissa Ross at mross@rider.edu.

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