West Virginia student sustainability efforts take root
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A student-led community effort to make Marshall University more sustainable in 2009 grew into a comprehensive sustainability department with bike sharing, a thrift store and the first commercial composting facility in West Virginia.
“For a while it was just a student garden and a recycling program, which we both still have, but we have added many new programs within the department over the past four years,” said said Amy Parsons-White, head of sustainability. told the Herald-Dispatch.
These include the Rolling Thunder Bike Share, where students can download an app to ride bikes; Gro Marshall Nature-Based Recovery, which uses gardening, meditation and yoga as therapy; and a composting facility that is the second largest of any university east of the Mississippi River.
“Having the compost allows us to dispose of all of our office papers, cardboard, food scraps and lawn scraps,” Parsons-White said. Former President Jerome Gilberts pledged to phase out single-use plastics by 2026. So another plan is to replace those plastics with aluminum, glass, or compostable materials.
Parsons-White said the university continues to expand recycling and is in the process of purchasing a glass crusher. The sand produced from the glass can be reused on campus for things like gardening and art and will ultimately save the university money on purchasing sand, Parsons-White said.
The thrift store opened at the start of the school year where students can donate items for other students to purchase.
“Before, so many good things were just thrown away when students moved out if they couldn’t put them in their cars or whatever,” Parsons-White said. “The thrift store is already offering something new to students and saving waste in the process.”