The Fourth “R”

Christos Liardakis, Copy Editor

Photo by Christos Liardakis

Reduce, reuse and recycle; those three “R”s are the mantra that all ecologists preach to their students as well as to the public to preserve the planet’s precious resources. Dr. Nahid Brown, an Environmental and Earth Sciences professor at NEIU, has taken the phrase a step further by adding a fourth R to that mantra: Respond. Not in the sense of responding by chasing someone down for littering but responding by educating fellow human beings as well as oneself about both the benefits of recycling and the reasons why everyone should participate. For Dr. Brown, it is a matter of creating ecological ambassadors of her students and expounding upon the importance of sustainable resource usage on this planet, the only home we have.

Dr. Brown’s students have taken that fourth “R” one step further. While other classes may listen and participate in the ideals of the class just enough to get a grade, Dr. Brown’s ESCI123 class has decided to emulate the role of Dr. Brown herself by starting their own water conservation projects. Her students are actively putting what they’ve learned into practice so that they can educate others about the benefits of water conservation for both the sustainability of their environment and everyone’s pockets.

The first group, “The Drips,” led by Joseph Auguello, will be examining the use of rainwater for lawn and garden care. Many people enjoy gardening and maintaining a beautiful lawn, but sometimes the watering regiment used is too excessive. Watering a garden when rain is predicted over-hydrates the garden and can cause flooding if the subsequent rainstorm is heavy. Xochti Aleman, 22-year-old NEIU junior and Drips member shared a few interesting facts that he felt everyone should be aware of. “On average, 40% of a household’s water goes to garden and lawn maintenance; but one single rainstorm can provide up to 1250 gallons of runoff.” That’s equal to 17 baths, or 58 long showers. The Drips group is looking at ways to conserve this rainwater for horticultural hydration through the use of rain barrels.

Dr. Brown’s second group, the “Clean Green Team,” lead by David Sullivan, is focusing on pollution prevention, specifically on products that impact the hydrosphere such as dishwashing soap and laundry detergents. The chemical contamination of water is a serious concern, especially if the aquifers used for drinking water are affected and compromised.

The third group call themselves “Every Little Drop Counts,” and they believe in the team’s name. The inefficient use of water, whether it is over-consumption or simply wasting it will eventually cause water supplies to run dangerously low, or even run dry. Human water usage affects every part of the ecosystem and the over-consumption of water can devastate the natural environment as well as damage the quality of life for smaller, aquifer-dependent communities. “Every Little Drop Counts,” lead by Christina Alexopoulos is looking at the details of water use and identifying minor changes people can make at home that will have a lasting impact on water conservation.

All this will be featured and shared with the NEIU community at the Village Square on March 26 and 28 by Dr. Brown’s students. It is thanks to Dr. Brown’s excellent guidance and advice that the students can present us with this enlightening information on our environment.