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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Environmental club begins new initiatives

By Amber Tong     9/11/14 10:17am

The Rice Environmental Club began its plans for the new year beginning in Orientation Week, according to club President Hutson Chilton.

“There was a Sustainability 101 optional session [at O-week],” Chilton, a McMurtry College senior, said. “I think we’re hoping that eventually it will be mandatory.”

Some existing projects are also being taken to new heights, according to Chilton. These initiatives include Rice University Biodiesel Initiatives, which involves taking used oil from the servery and converting it to biodiesel for vehicles on campus, as well as an e-waste drive Chilton hopes to institutionalize. These projects have come to fruition under the Rice Environmental Society, which serves as an umbrella organization for various green clubs on campus, such as Real Food Revolution, the Student Association Environmental Committee and Rice Students Volunteering Program.

“RES] been a melting pot for all sorts of sustainability initiatives,” Chilton said. “It’s like a nursery for new projects.”

According to Chilton, one of the new projects is working with the Center for Career Development for a stronger presence of green jobs, along with more help building sustainability resumes.

“There are a lot more [green jobs] out there than people realize,” Chilton said. “You can be a fashion designer, and it can be a green job.”

Chilton said another new project is composting, a goal agreed upon by all member clubs of RES,

“[Composting] is something that’s been done on and off over the years.” Chilton said. “I think with the concerted effort of our club and all the other clubs on campus, we can finally make it happen.”

Amid the plethora of projects, however, Chilton said she has an important vision in mind.

“This year I also want to add a theme [about] the social side of sustainability and environmental justice,” Chilton said.

Chilton said in order to achieve that, the club is planning to collaborate more closely with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services to hold more Toxic Tours, which are bike tours around low-income minority communities, to see how high-polluting industries impact them. In addition, RES is going to bring back an annual conference, according to Chilton.

“We used to have an annual conference,” Chilton said. “I think it will be good to bring back the conference and have a social side of sustainability this year.”

In terms of collaboration, other projects are being discussed among members of RES. One of such initiatives is the Food Recovery Network, first proposed by the SA Environmental Committee, according to Committee Co-Chair Tierra Moore.

“FRN is a program to allocate surplus food from serveries and events on campus to people in need,” according to a recruitment email sent out over the summer.

Moore said she anticipates the project beginning in October or November.

“It would actually be cool to do it in November, considering that November will be the Environmental Awareness Week,” Moore said. “It’s also Thanksgiving season.”

With so many projects lined up, both Chilton and Moore said the challenge is to gauge students’ interest and to get the word out. In particular, Chilton pointed to students’ refusal to provide blanket tax funding for RES in last year’s election.

“There’s a lot of people working very hard on it, which I don’t know if many students know, and I think that’s a large part of the reason why the blanket tax didn’t get passed last year,” Chilton said.

On a more positive note, the situation has been improving and has a positive outlook, according to Moore.

“Rice has made leaps and bounds in their environmental structure within the past few years,” Moore said. “I think we are on the right path.”

Any student interested in FRN or general sustainability projects should contact Moore at tsm1@rice.edu and Chilton at elizabethchilton@gmail.com.

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