By Laura Mortkowitz and Allie Ward
Both on and off campus, there are plenty of opportunities for Rider students to become more involved with the effort to “go green.”
Rider’s Sustainability Steering Committee is bringing more eco-friendly ideas to campus with the help of student Eco-Reps, and the Greek community is joining in with Greeks Go Green, founded by an Alpha Xi Delta (AZD) sister, senior Amanda Pinto.
Since the beginning of the school year, Pinto has been making changes in AZD’s house, and this semester she received $1,500 to help with her projects.
“I received a grant from Rider’s Sustainability Steering Committee, which allowed me to purchase all new, eco-friendly shower heads,” she said.
These new showerheads reduce the amount of water used per 15-minute shower by almost 20 gallons. Also, AZD has a Quench water machine, just like the ones around campus (see “Energy-saving stations,” page 4).
“All I did was write a grant proposal and a timetable and the cost of everything, and they gave me money for some of the things I wanted,” Pinto said.
Other Greek members have approached Pinto about helping her and making changes to other Greek houses.
“They just wanted to know what they could do and how they could help,” she said. “[Fraternity members] were asking me, ‘What can we do, how can we get the Quench machines?’ and things like that.”
Pinto also learned more about sustainability during her winter trip to Hong Kong. She realized that the people there were also interested in going green.
“I didn’t know until I got over there that around the world they were just as enthusiastic,” she said.
Although the idea is only up-and-coming in Hong Kong, it is desperately needed because the smog is so bad, Pinto said. She added that while Americans are still a little blasé about sustainability, the people in Hong Kong realize it’s a problem.
“When it starts affecting their day-to-day lives, and you can’t lie out and sunbathe without looking up into a gray sky or you can’t see the stars anymore, you know, I think then [Americans] would kick into gear,” Pinto said. “Like, ‘Now it’s a problem.’”
For those who don’t want to restrict their sustainable efforts to campus, there is an opportunity that will take students to Washington, D.C.
Power Shift 2009 provides the forum for students and other young people to petition President Obama’s administration for new, bold climate and energy policies.
Power Shift is expecting to draw upwards of 10,000 people and, to date, 113 people from New Jersey are registered to attend, according to Brianna Cayo Cotter, communications director for Energy Action Coalition, a non-profit organization that promotes the event.
“[We] feel like our government has not done enough to seriously address climate change, green jobs or a transition to 100 percent clean energy,” Cotter said. “These are young leaders who have kick-started a clean energy revolution on their campuses and in their communities and now are gathering in Washington, D.C.”
Among college students attending is a group from Rider, including junior Ian Hakkinen and sophomore Kathleen Di Maiuta.
“Dr. Hyatt proposed the idea to me and I investigated it,” Hakkinen said. “I thought it would be a great idea. I talked to some other students from Princeton and TCNJ and they’re both sending students there so I thought, why doesn’t Rider do the same?”
The two students began to campaign and fundraise for the trip. Now they are preparing to rally in Washington at the end of the month to educate themselves and to make their voices heard.
“[Power Shift will] educate young people and different universities about what they can do to make their campuses greener and to send a message to Congress to pass green legislature and make green jobs,” Hakkinen said.
The movement is scheduled to take place in Washington from Feb. 27 to March 2 and includes workshops, conferences between student leaders and speeches from experts on energy efficiency and climate policy. The retreat culminates on March 2 with a rally on Capitol Hill.
“With the new administration, we want a new voice,” Di Maiuta said. “[And for the government] to recognize that there is a large youth group determined to make this country greener.”