The Winds of Change

09/27/08
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By Lorin Schumacher
Senior Staff Writer

As students of a Catholic institution we have all been introduced, willingly or unwillingly, to the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). Many of you reading this are probably so well acquainted with the ideas that you are already groaning and motioning to put this paper down without reading another word for fear that I will be assigning a three-page reflection paper at the end. I promise that is not at all my intention.

But, I mention CST because we at Seton Hill University (SHU) are certainly familiar with it and are aware of its prevalence in the core curriculum. Despite such a focus on these ethical principles so central to our Catholic identity in the classroom, there has been one principle, stewardship of the earth, which had often been overlooked in practice. But now, thanks to people like director of campus ministry, Cindy Boland, and food services director, Darren Achtzehn, and some very dedicated SHU students, that is already changing.

This year’s 14th annual Labor of Love Saturday of Service began what will hopefully be a lasting project to institute an easy and effective means of recycling campus-wide. A group of volunteers gathered together on September 13th to organize the recycling program sponsored by the Green Commitment initiatives.

If you haven’t already seen the signs above the always existing, but previously rather pointless, green recycling bins around campus, take a closer look. We now have the means to mainstream everything: your cardboard, papers, plastics numbered one and two, aluminum and bi-metal cans can all be tossed into one convenient bin. All you have to do is throw these things into a green bin instead of a trash can (or worse as I often see it in A Lot, on the ground). And expect to see more bins in the near future, making it even easier as time passes.

In addition, the Green Commitment supporters held a Green Commitment signing during the club fair Tuesday, September 16. The forms consisted of a list of things that signers felt they could commit to for the year that would help reduce waste, like limiting showers to 10 minutes, or turning off the facet while brushing teeth, or even just taking notes on both sides of papers.

Each person who signed one received a “Drink to the Earth” mug that can be used in the cafeteria to reduce the use of the to-go Styrofoam and will even get you a discount in the Griffin’s Cove if you use it instead of a disposable cup. Over 150 people signed the commitment, but in a school of nearly 2,000 there’s a lot more that can be done.

Throughout the rest of the year, the Green Commitment group has plans to not only keep up the recycling program, but to begin an organic garden right here on campus. And the “Drink to the Earth” mugs will soon be available for purchase in the Cove and Lowe dining Hall if you missed out during the club fair.

All of us are guilty of being wasteful around campus. Think about how much electricity it takes to power a university, even one as small as our SHU. But, I doubt you think twice about leaving a light on when exiting a room. How many times have you gone to a computer lab and found the printer out of paper? And don’t even pretend youĂ­ve never filled one of those Styrofoam to-go cups with coffee (or anything else you could get in there) and then finished eating or drinking it within the next 10 minutes, immediately discarding the cup, which will take more than the next 10 years to break down.

I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty. I’m telling you this, hoping you will realize that it is your money going down the tubes when you decide to use fresh new paper to print a 25-page article that you are going to read once, quote twice, and then throw in the garbage the second your assignment is due.

And we wonder why tuition is going up? Well, luckily for you the administration and staff are backing the new Green Commitment initiative 100% and so the ball’s in our court. This attempt at making a change on campus is definitely one of the positive ones occurring this fall. It has the potential to turn SHU into the kind of place we all want it to be. The initiative has been taken by the staff, but it is up to us students to take up the commitment and make our university live up to the ethical principles we always have to write papers about. In the end, it will make Seton Hill a more beautiful and worthwhile place to live, learn, and grow.

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