Reducing the carbon footprint of Wake Forest

With spring-like weather rapidly approaching earlier than ever this year, questions have arisen about the climate changing.

In response, Wake Forest has taken the initiative in following national trends of becoming more sustainable.

One initiative created by the Office of Sustainability is a bike sharing program called Re-cycle. Re-cycle is a program that allows members to rent out bikes provided by the University for either short term or long term rentals.

“Wake provided me with a mode of transportation when I didn’t have a car, which was sweet,” said Luis Herrera, a sophomore who has been a member of Re-cycle since he stepped onto campus freshman year.

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“Not only was Wake giving me a mode of transportation,” he said, “But, the school was also allowing me to be a part of their sustainability efforts on campus.”

A typical vehicle emits five tons of carbon dioxide into our air each year; however, riding a bike just two times a week, instead of driving, can reduce carbon emissions by two tons a year.

Re-cycle is available for all Wake students, faculty and staff; however, there is a wait-list for becoming a member of the program because of the current limited number of bikes.

Dedee Johnston, Chief Sustainability Officer at Wake, said, “Re-cycle has always had more of a demand than we have a supply of bikes.”

“We are fortunate enough that next semester we will be able to rent out 140 bikes to our members,” she added.

Members of Re-cycle just have to pay $5 to rent out a refurbished bike, or $10 to rent a new bike, for the whole semester.

Students using the program are helping reduce their own carbon footprint on our campus. Reducing our carbon footprint on campus is important because the Environmental Protection Agency reported that carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is emitted by humans.

According to the EPA, 65 percent of gas emissions into our atmosphere were from carbon dioxide in 2014. 25 percent of this carbon dioxide emission was from transportation sources.

Additionally, the EPA found that the number of miles driven in vehicles increased 37 percent from 1990 to 2014. This increase is due to population growth, economic growth, and low fuel prices.

Johnston spent the last week on campus encouraging the participation of students in a week-long event called “The Beauty in the World We Find 2017 Celebration of the Earth.”

“We need to bring awareness about sustainability to our campus,” she said, “We just have to think about our carbon footprint that we produce in our everyday lives here.”

The Re-cycle program has not been as popular on campus as Johnston has hoped; however, new improvements coming in the Fall semester brings hope for more success with the program.

“Along with the increase of bikes next semester, our goal is to have a system set-up online where you can ‘shop’ for a bicycle with specific characteristics that you want,” said Johnston.

Re-cycle has partnered with Outdoor Pursuits to help distribute and house the bikes. And, if you have your own bike on campus, the Office of Sustainability has a program where you can get your bike engraved with your name.

Not only does biking help reduce the carbon emissions on campus, but biking allows for students to have an extracurricular way to de-stress from a hectic week.

“It is so healthy to spend time alone, which can be done easily with riding a bike through the Re-cycle program,” said Herrera. “If you are a member of Re-cycle, you can rent a bike out to take up to Pilot Mountain for the weekend.”

Herrera currently lives off-campus in a house with six other peers, all of which are members of Re-cycle.

“We make it a point to ride our bikes because people notice that,” he said, “A lot of people recognize me on campus because I’m the kid with bright red backpack, riding a bright red bike.”

“I ride my bike so that I can talk about it, so then I can talk about the program,” he added, “then, I can advocate for the overall sustainability of the campus.”

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