August 31, 2013
By Brittany P.
Recycling is the just the beginning of Mercyhurst University’s efforts to “green” its campuses and the surrounding community in Erie, PA. The university, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1926, has ventured into composting, farming and encouraging the use of refillable water bottles.
Mercyhurst instituted single-stream recycling to make recycling easier and more convenient for students. This form or recycling collects all recyclables together in one bin to encourage participation. Additionally, all of our dumpsters on campus are painted blue for recycling and green for trash to make recycling on campus easier.
To assist with our efforts to reduce solid waste, the university’s Erie Campus installed two Earth Tub composters in the fall of 2012, funded in part by the students’ “green fee”. The composters are a result of a partnership between the Sustainability Office and Parkhurst Dining Services, the university’s dining services provider. Moving the disposal of food waste from a landfill to composting will be a slow process, but we are committed to smoothing out all of the wrinkles with the collection process and increasing capacity to collect all of the food waste.
Our students drive our sustainability work by literally greening the campus. The Class of 2010 gifted a green roof to the Erie Campus, which was installed on the Ceramic Lab of Zurn Hall, home of Mercyhurst sciences and fine arts. During the spring and summer of 2013, two students planted edible landscaping and a perennial garden along the Mercy Walkway as a dedication to Sister Maura Smith for all her contributions to the university’s environmental education and conservation efforts. Our largest garden effort, the Mercyhurst Farm, heads into its fifth season. The farm runs with the efforts of a full-time garden manager, summer student workers and volunteers. All produce is grown organically and is either sold to employees, students or the community or donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Another major sustainability concern is the use and misuse of water. Mercyhurst recently installed an Evive Water Station on the Erie Campus and hopes to install more on the Erie and North East Campuses. These water stations fill and clean reusable water bottles, cutting down the need for bottled water and reducing our carbon footprint.
Beyond our campuses, we are working hard to educate about the need to live sustainably. We have partnered with the Erie School District to offer educational programs on sustainability topics such as energy and water conservation, how to start a school garden or a recycling program and the benefits of certified environmentally sustainable buildings . We are also working with the Sisters of Mercy motherhouse in Erie on a list of sustainability priorities including energy monitoring, energy conservation and recycling and sustainability education for the sisters in residence.
We continue to work with our students and the community on new initiatives every year. Visit our sustainability website for more information.