Senior Ruth Schaefer revives environmental awareness club on campus.
Lauren Clyne | Features Reporter
Ruth Schaefer saunters into Brushaber Commons, equipped with green tea and determination revive a dying campus club. Her short, curly hair bounces as she explains her ensemble: a forest-green jacket and a collection of metal leaves falling from her necklace. Schaefer, a senior double majoring in English and Elementary Education wants to resuscitate the Creation Restoration club.
According to Schaefer, there is an unlit, fiery passion centered around “going green” on Bethel’s campus. She appears to be right. More than 40 people expressed interest in Creation Restoration at the Activities and Clubs Fair this month.
“We want to simply introduce people to [environmental] topics,” Schaefer said. “Even making one change in the way you live – whether it’s what you eat or the amount of plastic you consume – that can still make a difference.”
Creation Restoration’s goal is simple: to give students an outlet to learn about and work towards sustainability. The unlit passion that Schaefer sees around campus is like a waterfall, spewing with power and energy. Creation Restoration wants to be a generator on that waterfall; funneling that power and energy into something productive.
“Going green is really overwhelming,” Schaefer acknowledges. “You could buy reusable mugs or reusable bags, you could eat local or you could bike to work. But you can’t do all of those things at once because they are huge commitments, especially for college students.”
The club’s quest for creation restoration doesn’t stop at the edge of Bethel’s property. Schaefer’s personal goal is to set up an environmental network within the MIAC to strengthen sustainability at schools all over.
“Everyone is figuring out how it [sustainability] works for their own liberal arts campus and there’s no communication between the schools in the Twin Cities when we’re similar student bodies.”
While the club is most interested in getting the student body plugged in through events, they have joined the discussion on the clash between Christianity and the environment.
“Sustainability is a way to love our neighbors,” remarks Schaefer.
Schaefer challenges people to ask themselves who their “neighbor” really is. Is it the girl blasting Justin Bieber’s songs on Freshman Hill or could your neighbor be a poverty-stricken family in Minneapolis too? Polluting the air in the Twin Cities might not affect affluent families who can just move away, but people without the means to uproot their lives will suffer.
At Bethel, some have experienced a division between Christianity and environmental awareness. Dr. Ken Peterson, the Director of Environmental Studies, notes times when he has received anonymous emails, questioning the role of environmental studies on a Christian campus.
All around campus, steps are being taken towards environmental sustainability.
ITS plans on reducing paper waste by 25 percent with the new printers scattered around campus. With the old printers, some computers couldn’t communicate the ‘print’ command fast enough, causing students to press the print button multiple times before seeing results. Now, students and faculty simply scan their I.D. to print, eliminating waste. Because of this the new printers will pay for themselves according to student ITS worker Adrian Smithee.
Resident directors Alyssa Alyssum and Kristie Davis are pioneering a sustainability effort in on – campus housing. They want to break the cycle that many Bethel students have fallen into – doing what is convenient instead of listening to their environmental convictions.
“We want to have a concrete reminder for students,” Alyssum said. “[We gave them each] a mug, preventing them from using paper, plastic or Styrofoam cups at events.” Over 400 ceramic mugs have already been distributed to students living in Arden Village and Lissner. After this trail year, the duo hopes to present their findings to all student housing facilities.
Schaefer echoes their voices.
“I personally would love to see people using their own mugs at Royal Grounds (RG) because we have such a coffee culture.” If Schaefer does not have her mug, she puts her value of being a conscience consumer above her instant desire for coffee at RG. Although she admits it is difficult, she is devoted to leading by example.
“Living here on campus you’re not really affected by the lifestyles that we live or how eco friendly we are and so when we get really busy it’s really easy for apathy set in.”