Plenty of participation and excitement surround Earth Week at MU

The recycling bins have been placed around campus for Earth Week. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

As Earth Week events continue on campus this week, Marquette is also celebrating being named one of seven green colleges in Wisconsin last week by the Princeton Review.

According to the Princeton Review website, Marquette was chosen because the university received high points on a green rating scale based on its sustainability practices and campus-related green programs.

Kevin Gilligan, general manager of dining services for Sodexo at Marquette, said he is not surprised at Marquette’s recognition, considering the recent steps the university has taken to improve sustainability, such as implementing the “No To-Go Campaign” across campus, which raises awareness of the waste of to-go containers.

“I’ve been on campus three years, and I have seen a lot of change in that time,” Gilligan said. “Three years ago we had recycling, but it wasn’t near what is it now. We’re just getting better and better.”

Gilligan said Marquette’s green scores on other sites like College Prowler have increased over the past few years.

Earth Week events later this week will include guest speakers discussing topics like water sustainability and energy conservation, a native tree tour on campus and an “energy fast” in which students will be encouraged to turn off lights and unplug appliances.

Prior events included Meatless Monday in the dining halls, a clothing and book swap in the Alumni Memorial Union and an environmental-themed online film, “The Story of Stuff,” shown at Marquette Hall.

The week’s events are sponsored by Students for an Environmentally Active Campus, the Sigma Kappa sorority, the Great Outdoors Club, Global Medical Brigades, the Omega Delta fraternity and UNICEF.

Others involved in Earth Week at Marquette include Heather Kohl, an environmental economist and Marquette adjunct economics professor, who gave a speech yesterday regarding water sustainability.

“I am proud of Marquette’s commitment to becoming more green,” Kohl said. “I think we have a ways to go still, but we have made stellar progress.”

Mallary Flatley, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and member of Global Medical Brigades, said her organization was very interested in joining Earth Week Marquette.

“Global Brigades got involved because we recently did an Environmental Brigade in Panama,” Flatley said. “SEAC seemed interested in what we did in Panama and wanted students to learn more about it.”

Flatley said a few Panama trip members even made a special visit to McCormick Hall for Meatless Monday to support the university’s efforts.

McCormick, unlike many other dining halls, does not offer to-go containers. Gilligan said students and faculty should be cautious of the waste they produce because such containers take up space in landfills and are not easily broken down.

Gilligan said he has totaled 2,500 to-go containers used this week from the dining halls, which he said is indicative of a larger problem with the attitude towards the environment on campus.

“At (Marquette) Place especially we get a lot of students who ask for a to-go container but then sit down and stay to eat,” Gilligan said.

Jessica Leibert, a junior in the College of Nursing and philanthropy chair of Sigma Kappa, said she tries not to fall into the trap of wastefulness.

“I am, however, guilty of using to-go containers once in a while at the AMU because sometimes it just seems easier to eat out of the containers,” Leibert said. She said she feels guilty creating more waste because Marquette does offer greener solutions such as china and reusable products.

Leibert added that Earth Week has helped her better understand the reality of accumulated waste on campus and what she can do to change her behavior.

Leibert said the visual signs of improvement, such as the new green buildings on campus like Engineering Hall, are proof of Marquette’s dedication. But like Kohl, she admits that Marquette must continue efforts like decreasing wastes in Brew locations or other campus areas.

Kohl said in order to be green, Marquette must continue to make concerted efforts toward reducing its waste.

“Just as in private markets, Marquette has to balance the cost of implementation with the benefits of a greener public image,” Kohl said. “So the more students express their desire to have a greener Marquette, the more benefit the administration can see.”

Further information regarding locations and times for Earth Week may be found at Marquette’s website.