Coloring campus green


 The Environmental Awareness Club has new programs in the works this semester in hope of getting more students involved. The EAC is working to make students “more familiar with the things they can do on a daily basis to be more environmentally friendly,” Ryan Rehmeier, assistant professor of biology and adviser of the EAC, said. In addition to their regular events, such as Green Bingo, movie night and Green Week, the group is working on developing an all-organic Simpson garden and organizing a program known as Recyclemania. Recyclemania is a 10-week-long competition among over 600 schools across the United States, parts of Mexico City and the Middle East. Schools compete to see which school can recycle the most based on a per-student basis.  “The goal is to reduce the amount of stuff that you put in the trash and increase the amount of stuff that you recycle,” Rehmeier said. “Each week the school gets an estimate of the amount of recycled materials and is displayed on where students can access the data and find out where the school stands.”  The annual competition began in 2001 and kicked off Jan. 17 this year. This is the first year Simpson has participated and will compete against other Iowa schools including Central College, Morningside College and Grinnell College.  The EAC hopes that in the years to come, Recyclemania will catch on with Simpson students.  The plan for the garden was developed by students who wanted access to fresh, locally-grown products that they knew had been grown organically.  One of the main benefits, advocates say, is that no pesticides are used on the plants. They say there are other benefits too. Because the plants are grown on campus, the cost of transportation and the use of gasoline will be greatly reduced, therefore reducing the damage to the environment. Rehmeier said he’s not sure on the location of the garden just yet, since they have to be aware of other pesticides used on plants around campus possibly affecting the pesticide-free organic garden. As far as help on these projects, Rehmeier said anyone who is interested in growing things is welcome, even if you don’t have experience with gardens.  “It just takes people who are willing in the spring to help set down an area, plant some stuff and occasionally tend to it,” Rehmeier said.  The EAC is also working closely with other groups such as the Earth Corps and the Sustainability Committee.  Freshman Earth Corps. member JoAnna Freeland has been pushing to make the school more green by putting in hand dryers instead of paper towels in the bathrooms.  “I figured out that Simpson uses 1.4 million paper towels per school year,” Freeland said.  She looked for a way to incorporate hand dryers to improve sustainability and efficiency and help out the janitors. After looking at many different hand dryers, Freeland decided a hand dryer called The Extreme, would be well received because it’s powerful enough to dry hands in 10 seconds.  Freeland said this model will be installed in bathrooms in Cowles Fieldhouse as a test-run to see how the Simpson community responds and also to test the efficiency of saving on energy costs.  Senior EAC president Paige Shelton also excited for the new semester projects. She said the club has big plans for Green Week. During the week of March 29 to April 2, the EAC plans to have a Recycled Art Show, a Trash Audit, Eco-Plinko and a free Locavore lunch that will be grown by local Iowa farmers from the Iowa Food Cooperative. 


The goals of the EAC are “to raise awareness of the Simpson community about environmental issues and promote sustainability,” Shelton said. “By raising students’ awareness about environmental issues, the EAC hopes to inspire students to make sustainable changes in their daily lives, on campus and in the larger community.”