By Cathleen Leitch
In a society that is more consciously aware of global warming and world health than ever before, more people seem to be getting involved. Many more people recycle. Even car companies are putting their feet in the “green” pool and hybrid cars are no longer a dream for the future.
Rider University is also doing its part. As many students are aware, West Village, a residence hall under construction, is well under way with a completion date of May 2009. West Village is an all “green,” or environmentally friendly, building. The building even has the approval of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) committee. But this is not the only way Rider is contributing to the environment’s well-being.
The school has signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a visionary effort to address global warming by asking institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions. It also aims to continue the research and teaching efforts of higher education to enable society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. Being a supporter of this commitment involves taking the responsibility to be a role model for the community and to train individuals who will ultimately develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.
The four main ideas stressed by this committee are known as the Four Rs of Sustainability: reduce, reuse, refuse and recycle.
Reduce is a particularly important step in preserving the environment. A blog produced by the librarians at the Westminster Choir College’s Talbott Library informs the community of how to reduce its paper and toner use or to use more appropriate types. To lessen the gas emissions around campus and the area, the school has created Erideshare.com. This is a Web site designed to form car pools between faculty, staff and students. It is a private network and can easily be signed up for. As a result of the sustainability level of West Village, LEED is awarding the building a Silver status, meaning it has low-energy costs and emissions.
As for reuse, Rider works with Planet Aid to collect and distribute used clothing. Also, the Leadership Development Program holds a move-out day collection of unused or unwanted food, appliances and furniture.
Refuse is based on forming an understanding of the fundamental economic, ecological and social dimensions of climate change. To help professors integrate such discussions into their classes, the library has created a subject guide and set of resources of curriculum development.
The last R, which everyone should already know is important, is recycle. The university and its cleaning service, UNICCO, have established a recycling plan. The school has begun to hold Earth Day events, which started last spring to inform the students about the Four Rs and general sustainability.
Perhaps one of the most astounding environmentally based events is Campus Sustainability Day, which will be held on Oct. 22. Sustainability Day began in 2003 with a goal to bring the community together to enjoy celebrating and learning about sustainability. This event has information tables, games and giveaways all related to the environment. One of the major aspects of this year will involve the distribution of water bottles. The idea is to keep refilling the bottles with filtered water so the community will stop tossing plastic bottles away and just use the taps instead.
Preserving the environment is an important issue in today’s society. With projects like West Village and events like Campus Sustainability Day, Rider is one of many universities taking strides towards a healthy globe. Hopefully, the university’s lead will be followed and the Earth will become a more environmentally sound place to live.