Baylor University’s sustainability efforts align directly with the school’s mission “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” Smith Getterman, the Director of Sustainability and Special Projects, believes in a faith-based approach to conservation and strives to teach students how to become stewards of God’s creation. He believes that the call to be stewards of God’s creation and the call to love our neighbors is one in the same, and he integrates these ideals into Baylor’s sustainability initiatives.
Projects: Move-In and Move-Out During Baylor move-in, volunteers assist students and their families in carrying all of their belongings from their vehicles to their dorm rooms. After students unpack, the volunteers pick up any empty cardboard boxes and take them to the recycling dumpsters. To encourage recycling further, the recycling dumpsters are placed right outside residence halls and families are notified of their availability through the Move In Day website and email. Baylor averages 10 tons of recycling during the 48 hours of Move-In each year. In 2018, they recycled 13.5 tons, the highest recycling rate of any previous year.
During the last 2 weeks of the Spring semester and Move-Out, donation locations are placed in all residence halls for the collection of gently used items that students no longer want. These items are then donated to local non-profits. Baylor has also partnered with Goodwill to provide Goodwill trucks at Baylor apartment complexes. These serve as donation locations for students not living in residence halls. Each year, an average of 20,000 pounds of goods has been donated. In 2018, 22,000 pounds of items were donated, the highest of any previous year.
The Fridge/The Store
Low-income students are more likely than their peers to struggle in school, especially if they don’t have access to adequate amounts of food. The Store was created to provide these students with supplemental food that they can take home to stock their shelves. All students have to do is fill out a brief form and take home the food items they need for free. In 2019, there were $27,000 in contributions to The Store from the Baylor Board of Regents, ensuring this project continues serving students in need through 2020.
The Fridge is a similar project that is designed for grab and go meals, rather than groceries. Mini fridges are set up around campus to provide hungry students with quick snacks and meals while they are on campus. There are currently ten fridges on Baylor’s main campus and two at the Louise Herrington Nursing School in Dallas. Just over half of the fridges are funded by the department, and the rest are funded by the generosity of staff and faculty. The goal is to have all the fridges funded by departmental budgets.
The Sustainability Student Advisory Board
The Sustainability Student Advisory Board gives students the opportunity to be a part of the sustainability efforts at Baylor University. Students on the Board are able to suggest sustainable improvements and encourage environmental respect and responsibility on campus. The Board is comprised of 25 students from a wide variety of academic and geographic backgrounds who all have an interest in sustainability.
The Board engages the community in several volunteer projects. One project is the adoption of two parks through the local Keep Texas Beautiful chapter, Keep Waco Beautiful. The Board teams up with other organizations to clean up their parks and surrounding areas every quarter. The Board also participates in service activities at the state level, such as volunteering to clean up Mother Neff State Park. The Board is active in many other cleanup and awareness events on campus throughout the year as well.
Along with engaging in these sustainability initiatives, Baylor teaches its students to become good stewards of the environment. These students can then go on to improve their communities and spread sustainability beyond Baylor’s campus. Getterman says this is the strongest way for Universities to play a role in conservation. He believes that “for Christians in particular, it is imperative we begin to see these issues through the lens of the gospel and the Christ-given mission to love our neighbors.” Thanks to the help of Smith Getterman and countless sustainability programs, there is a large community of faith-based environmental stewards on Baylor’s campus.