Letter to the Editor: Trash leaves footprints

I am sure that Rider University students are aware of the national and international issues of global warming, pollution and environmental protection. However, they may not know about a related issue that is so local, they could see it outside their residence hall windows.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) defines its Green Acres program as “a system of interconnected open spaces, whose protection will preserve and enhance New Jersey’s natural environment and its historic, scenic and recreational resources for public use and enjoyment.” The Bureau of Legal Services and Stewardship maintains the Green Acres property. However, it has not noticed a problem that is right in Rider University’s backyard, so to speak.

Rider students may not know that the South Parking Lot is across the street from a small forest in the Green Acres program, preserving open space. Unfortunately, garbage accumulates there from the parking lot. Cups, newspapers, wrappers, fliers and anything else that is light enough to be moved by a breeze is blown across the lot and then across Skillman Avenue before ending up stuck in the forest. This litter can be hazardous to plants and animals. There is also Five Mile Run, the creek that runs from Rider’s Centennial Lake to the forest. If garbage is blown into this, it can float downstream and contaminate the area. In addition, some local homes have well water that depends on the creek. All of this littering has been happening for years, and little has been done to stop it.

When Rider students or visitors leave an empty cup next to their car or throw out a wrapper in a large area like the parking lot, they may not think it’s a hazard because it’s just one cup or wrapper. However, when many people do this constantly, the amount of garbage blown into the forest is increased — and garbage in any Green Acres property is unacceptable.

In the future, Rider should consider installing a fence along the edge of the parking lot, so that any garbage would gather there and then could be easily collected by the University’s maintenance crew. But until then, I hope that The Rider News can help get the word out to students to stop littering in the first place. That way, we can all make both Rider and the forest better places for the community.

—Tony Richardson
Lawrence High School

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