Although Earth Day was first recognized on April 22, 1970, the values it represents have been part of the fabric of Chestnut Hill College since its founding and an integral part of its mission.
“Showing concern for Earth happens in so many ways and it really is easy for everyone to take action to support that concern,” says Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ, assistant to the president for sustainability and director of the Earth Center.
Sister Mary Elizabeth has brought her unique brand of activism to bear on campus since 2009, when the Earth Center — a small, square stone structure near the lower parking lot — was first opened. In the intervening years, she has directed a semi-annual Sustainability Conference, chaired the Sustainability Task Force and worked with the campus Green Team to enlighten, educate and take action against apathy toward our planet.
“The Chestnut Hill College community has been supportive and proactive in many ways that support our environmental efforts,” says Sister Mary Elizabeth. “I would encourage everyone to get involved in whatever ways they can to support a healthy Earth for us all.”
Ways in which Sister Mary Elizabeth, the Earth Center and the Sustainability Task Force are taking action — and ways everyone can help.
- Join the Green Team or the Sustainability Task Force. Contact Sister Mary Elizabeth at
or 215-248-7289. Visit https://www.chc.edu/sustainability
- Reduce, recycle, reuse. Print fewer documents; buy fewer items with mounds of plastic packaging; share or give away belongings instead of throwing away; recycle everything possible.
- In April, watch for announcements about Earth Week activities. Last year, a documentary about the effects of global climate change was screened; an electronics recycling day was held; and a general campus clean-up was accomplished, followed by reflection near the Peace Pole on the Summerhouse Lawn.
“The top three things everyone can do immediately are simple,” reminds Sister Mary Elizabeth. “Recycle. We collect everything in the same containers across campus so you don’t even have to separate plastics from paper, for example. Look for the blue recycling containers and use them.”
Buy a reusable water bottle and use it. The Sustainability Task Force is working to install water-bottle filling stations around campus that Sister Mary Elizabeth hopes will be in place soon. “As water fountains are replaced or repaired or built as new construction, we plan to install the new filling stations one at a time.”
And avoid using Styrofoam. The material that is so common in packaging of all types does not decompose in the environment under normal circumstances. “It’s everywhere, so it’s not easy to avoid it, but start by recognizing its use, and do your best to find alternatives,” she adds.
— Brenda Lange