Educate yourselves this Earth Day
Editorial | U. must take responsibility for student education on environment
Obviously, every day should be Earth Day, but today we have an opportunity to specifically raise awareness and educate ourselves about the environment — so why not take it? Regardless what you think about the causes and consequences of climate change, there’s no argument when it comes to the fact that we’re responsible for taking care of our environment. Even basic actions like properly recycling and managing waste are overlooked, and they do make a difference. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each person throws away approximately 4 pounds of garbage a day. If we aren’t being smart about how we manage all that trash, the future really isn’t looking too great.
But it’s not about recycling plastic bottles to stop climate change — it’s just about being responsible for our immediate environment. While College Avenue itself is usually pretty clean, take a short walk to Easton Avenue, which is littered with bottles and trash. There are probably more students on Easton Avenue than residents of New Brunswick, and there’s no excuse for us to be treating the area like a dumpster — regardless of whether or not it’s technically our campus. Besides, we’re all adults. We should all be responsible enough to at the very least hold onto our trash until we get to the next garbage can.
One of the reasons some people don’t consider themselves interested in or invested in the environment is because most environmental discussions are either too political or too scientific. Politicians get into heated debates over whether climate change even exists, and the scientific community releases complicated reports in its efforts to prove it. And in between, too many people who even know the difference between what should and should not be recycled.
Bellevue College hosts a week of events for Earth Day every year, including a campus fashion show featuring outfits made from secondhand materials. Wake Forest University holds a garden party, and the University of California-Berkley has options for a vegan lifestyle available on campus. Several universities hold recycled art shows and farmer’s markets with local vendors. These are all fun, creative ways to get students involved in the efforts to maintain a healthier, more environmentally responsible community. At Rutgers, several events this week will honor Earth Day, such as a film screening and a “Climate Justice Rally.” Yet they are sponsored by the Rutgers Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, which is a student organization. The University itself could take more of an active role in educating the students and community on the environment. After all, we have an entire School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and there are farms on Cook Campus. Rutgers definitely has the resources for some great Earth Day events.
Rutgers is doing great things as an institution in environmental research, but it doesn’t translate well into student awareness and educational efforts. If the University has the resources to develop initiatives and work on research to reduce its overall environmental footprint, it should also be working to keep its students involved. On Livingston campus, the new business school building is praised for its sustainable infrastructure and the rows of solar panels over the parking lots add to Rutgers’ eco-friendly image. But the whole point of the research that the University is conducting should be to come up with feasible ways for everyone to implement a more sustainable lifestyle. If Rutgers really is committed to protecting the environment, then it would do more to make sure the overall attitude on campus toward the environment is in line with its academic research findings. “Green” buildings don’t mean much when the students in it don’t have a clue about it.