Earth Day is the one day out of the year that is dedicated to the Earth and it is recognized for its natural beauty. While, there is a large worldwide movement to save the planet, there are some people out there who completely deny global warming and even some people who remain apathetic to the Earth’s needs despite knowing the consequences of human’s actions on the Earth. The Earth needs to be cared for each and every day in order to keep it inhabitable for generations to come. In the IPCC Global Warming Special Report of 2018, it was discovered that the Earth is on track for a three degrees Celsius, or 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit, rise in temperature, which can then lead to devastating effects on the environment.
One part of Roosevelt University’s mission is helping to create a greener Earth by focusing on the environment, equality and equity. Roosevelt even has a plan set in place that includes building two green buildings that are both LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, which means a building was built sustainably, and converting ten acres of turf on the Schaumburg campus into its native prairie and wetland.
As a part of Roosevelt’s mission they also held their own “Earth Week” in collaboration with the multiple groups focused on sustainability, including RUGreen. Each day was a different activity that provided information on how to help the planet. Monday, April 22 started with a compost day and Thursday saw a trip to the farmers market.
Vice President of RUGreen, freshman Sophia Gallo, helped lead a group to McKinley Park on Tuesday April 23 where they picked up litter and even planted new plants. “So we went around and picked up trash around the park and threw ‘seed bombs’ that we made at one of our previous meetings.” Gallo went on to explain what seed bombs are, “the seed bombs are like balls of soil, clay and seeds and we put like milkweed seeds that are good for pollinators like the monarchs,” Gallo said.
Although Roosevelt has a lot of sustainable practices set in place, there is a large gap between each practice and student participation. Gallo said she thinks students here at Roosevelt are not taking enough action to save the planet, saying that students seem to ignore signs in place to aid them in being green.
“I guess I can only speak for what I see directly but I feel like if you’re not making that effort with small sort of day to day stuff that can be easy to fix then maybe people aren’t doing any or many other kinds of helpful action,” Gallo said.
President of RUGreen, junior Samantha Schultz, believes that there is no such thing as enough when it comes to saving the planet, but she does believe that students can start with small changes that will lead to a more sustainable life.
“Just by switching to a reusable water bottle or bringing your own bag to the grocery store is enough to make an impact and influence others to do so as well,” Schultz said. “Roosevelt students, in particular, are doing their part, simply by just becoming educated on the matter of sustainability and what the issues our planet is facing.”
There are many different ways for students to get involved in sustainability here at Roosevelt, from taking classes on sustainability to even joining RU Green. But, Gallo said she feels that in order for students to actually get involved they need to be educated on these topics.
“I think another important factor is getting people educated about issues that we’re having because it might be hard to care if you don’t fully understand how urgent some of these issues are, especially climate change,” Gallo said.
Schultz also said that students should become more educated on topics such as sustainability in order to become more involved. “Being said, I think in order to further our involvement and create an even bigger chain reaction to helping the planet, students can take sustainability classes here at Roosevelt to become more educated, they can reach out to RUGreen and come to our meetings, they can even just simply read the signs above the compost, recycling, and trash bins to become more involved,” said Schultz.
Professor & Director of Sustainability Studies, Dr. Michael Bryson said that education is important when trying to get students to start making small changes within their lives to help the environment. Bryson said, “One reason might be lack of information/knowledge about why such actions like recycling and composting matter,” by learning about recycling and composting students would recognize the detrimental effects that landfills put on the environment. Bryson said, “Another might be the assumption that individual actions don’t really matter, because they’re small.” Bryson believes that these can both be addressed by basic environmental literacy and encouragement from others.
Gallo said that Roosevelt has put in the effort to remain sustainable, however, Gallo also feels that Roosevelt does not broadcast their efforts enough. “As far as their outreach goes though I’d say that more could be done to get students engaged or at the very least informed.”
Gallo added that many students do not seem to be informed on the fact that there are compost for students to use. “For example, even though we just put in school wide composting there was never an announcement made to students and staff to let people know, or help people use it.”