Course promotes environmental responsibility

February 21, 2014 12:15 PM

Alicia Duplessis Jasmin

During the fall semester, Keith Silverman, an instructor in the Tulane University Department of Philosophy, asked students to think of ways to put their environmental responsibility into action.

Bottle filling station

A student refills her water bottle at one of two new water bottle filling stations in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. The station allows for easier filling of tall drinking containers. (Photo from Keith Silverman)

On Thursday (Feb. 20), the students saw their idea become a reality as they held a small ribbon-cutting ceremony for a water bottle filling station that was installed on the fourth floor of Howard-Tilton Memorial Library on the uptown campus.

Colleen Large, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies and economics, first suggested the idea.

“A lot of thought went into finding a location, choosing a brand and model,” says Large, who also interns at the university’s Office of Sustainability. “The intent is to reduce Tulane’s overall plastic waste and to use this as a pilot to see how students receive it.”

To encourage students, Silverman says he teaches the course on environmental ethics utilizing a theory by Greek philosopher Aristotle who believed that the end result of a lesson in ethics should be aimed less at knowing and more about action.

“The water bottle filling station was an idea that the entire class agreed upon and they worked really hard to make it a reality,” says Silverman of the students’ fundraising efforts. “It’s a lesson in theoretical ethics applied to practical concerns.”

The filling station allows users to easily fill water bottles and other tall containers and was funded by a Go Fund Me Web page created by Paige Callahan, a junior majoring in environmental studies. The class also organized a potluck dinner where the students cooked food and charged a small fee to attend.

“This station is great because it has a green ticker that tracks how many disposable water bottles are being saved from going into landfills,” says Callahan. “The number is already above 1,000 bottles.”

The unit cost about $1,500 and Tulane Facility Services provided additional funding for the installation. A second unit, paid for by the university, also was installed on the second floor of the library.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000