Green initiatives earn Hurst national recognition

Elizabeth Shewan, Staff writer

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In recognition of its sustainability efforts, Mercyhurst has recently been featured in The Princeton Review’s 2019 Guide to Green Colleges. According to an October press release by the Princeton Review, each year they choose 413 colleges to profile out of the nearly 700 schools surveyed throughout 2018-2019.

The chosen universities must all have a strong commitment to green practices and programs.

“We weren’t aware that this was coming, it was a nice surprise,” Greg Baker, Ph.D, vice president for University Mission said.

“It’s a pat on the back for a lot of people who have been very intentional and mindful about how we act as a campus in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, who care a lot about the environment.”

Mercyhurst’s efforts towards environmental sustainability are motivated by the Mercyhurst core values, particularly that of global responsibility. Global responsibility is the idea that the university, in keeping with the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, must “learn how to steward the resources of the Earth wisely and to act in solidarity with its diverse peoples,” according to the Mercyhurst website.

Baker oversees sustainability as VP for Mission, however, he points out that sustainability efforts at Mercyhurst are carried out by a variety of people. “Sarah Bennett has been our sustainability chair for the past several years and has done a really great job,” Baker said. “Between she and the student-led green team and the campus-wide green team that includes faculty and administrators, we’ve got a lot of people paying attention to sustainability here.”

Sustainability efforts currently in place include both small and large projects. Ongoing ventures include Ryan Hall’s new sport court which featured solar-powered umbrellas, the “Hydration Stations” for refillable water bottles located around campus and the “bee hotel” located in the Sister Maura Smith Peace Garden behind Warde Hall.

Mercyhurst is also a part of the Erie 2030 initiative, a group of local businesses and institutions working in agreement to significantly reduce energy consumption by the year 2030.

Mercyhurst students also actively go into the Erie community for trash pickups and beach cleanups. On April 22, 2020, Mercyhurst will recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which was first celebrated in 1970, with various programs and events including a guest lecturer.

While Mercyhurst has made great strides in terms of sustainability, there are still some ongoing issues including contaminated recycling bins.

“One of our ongoing concerns that remains is contaminated recycling,” Baker said.

“If students would like to know their small part that they can do to be part of our bigger initiative, that’s a great place to start.”

Many students attempt to recycle, but when garbage or materials that are not able to be recycled fall into the wrong bins, the entire container may end up contaminated. Contaminated loads cannot be recycled at all. For students who care about the environment, Baker encourages taking an active part in the campus’s green initiatives.

“There’s lots of ways to get involved. And almost every great thing that’s been done here over the years has been initiated by and dreamt up by students,” Baker said. “We’re always looking for students to bring their energy and their passion to come up with good ideas.”

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