Sustainability efforts reach beyond Earth Day

The Broncs Go Green bottle was available to students who traded in recyclable cans and bottles. Sustainability Day also featured eco-friendly video games to educate students.

by Amber Cox

Daly’s Dining Hall turned its lights down to help support Rider’s first Campus Sustainability Day on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

“We hope to educate the Rider community about sustainability and bring some of those issues to light,” said Melissa Ross Greenburg, sustainability coordination manager, in an article on the university Web site.

A large number of campus community members took part. Daly’s served cold sandwiches for lunch, cut down on the use of hot plates and lowered the lights.

Rider’s Environmental Sustainability Steering Committee (ESSC) celebrated Sustainability Day in the Student Recreation Center on the Lawrenceville campus. The event included a giveaway of water bottles, and attendees were educated about different environmental issues.

There was “a lot of learning happening,” according to Dr. Laura Hyatt, associate professor of Biology.

“We handed out 350 water bottles and educated folks about a variety of issues ranging from water to climate change to the campus’s carbon footprint,” Hyatt said.  “Earth Day last year devolved into a T-shirt giveaway, and we wanted this year’s event to be more educational. Each water bottle recipient had to participate in some kind of game or quiz to get a prize.”

Quench water filtration stations were being tested this week, in hopes that they will encourage students not to buy bottled water. Two stations are on the Lawrenceville campus and two others are on the Westminster campus.

“The Quench water filtration system in the gym was also great to have nearby so that people could fill up their bottles right away,” Hyatt said.

Events also took place throughout the day at Westminster.

“Campus Sustainability Day was celebrated under the banner ‘Fall Earth Festival,’” explained Diana Petras, a Westminster faculty member who works in the Talbott Library. “Students came out to drop off donations and partake in hot coffee and cider and hand-picked apples from Small World Coffee and Terhune Orchards, to encourage support of local businesses. Students were asked to bring in items that were not as simple to recycle or reuse, such as plastic grocery bags, clothing donations and batteries.”

A number of games and displays on both campuses were designed to test the students’ knowledge of conservation and sustainability issues.

“My seminar class ran a game they invented called ‘Life: The Carbon Edition,’ that taught participants about the causes, consequences and contributions they could make about the world’s climate crisis,” Hyatt said in the Web site release. “The group worked very hard to devise activities that are relevant to the Rider student experience. Essentially, we hope to increase understanding that translates into action.”

“Test Your Water Sense” and “Water Dash” were two eco-friendly video games students could play. The first game was a Pac Man-style game that led the player through a labyrinth toward safe zones, which accumulated points. At the safe zones, players had to answer “water-consumption questions” for bonus points while avoiding water-based predators. The second featured a penguin trying to catch clean droplets of water while avoiding drops contaminated with water-borne illnesses.

At Westminster, students who brought in donations used their items as “tickets” to play games.

“Our most popular game was tossing batteries into the Broncs-Go-Green water bottles provided by ESSC,” said Petras. “When you got the battery in the bottle, you got to take one home. This particular game was a chance to educate students about conservation as well as informing them of the new Quench water filtration units.”

The day was also about providing information about sustainability contests, the grant programs, and the courses offered on campus that are related to sustainability.

“The Environmental Club had a great water bottle sculpture to demonstrate the important facts about water use and abuse,” Hyatt said.

Tom Szaky, co-founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Inc., the world’s first company to manufacture products made from and packaged in “garbage” or recycled materials, gave a lecture on both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses entitled “TerraCycle: Sustainable Business Success.”

“Szaky spoke to students, offering a fresh perspective on garbage and what we see as waste, challenging all to see potential in what they already have,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt felt that the first Sustainability Day was a success.

“I think it went well,” Hyatt said. “I think that Earth Day this spring will continue along the educational model, but we’d like more students involved in presenting information and inventing activities.”

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