Often referred to as having one of the most beautiful campuses in America, Samford University is well known for its timeless architecture and beautiful landscaping. Yet, rolling green lawns and well groomed gardens are only external views of what it means to be “green” at Samford. Internally, a student run organization called Restoring Eden Samford, is also making a well known name for itself through its support for campus-wide green initiatives.
The Samford University’s chapter of Restoring Eden stems from the parent organization, a national, non-profit that encourages faithful service for the environment. It’s mission is simple: to “make hearts bigger, hands dirtier, and voices stronger for God’s creation by rediscovering the biblical call to love, serve, and protect God’s creation.”
Launched in 2008, Restoring Eden Samford (RES) was initiated through the University Ministry’s Social Justice Committee. Since then, it’s inspired students and administration to create and maximize the environmental sustainability of Samford’s campus. Partnered with Samford’s Go Green initiative — which promotes greener custodial, facilities management, food and landscaping services — RES specifically encourages environmental stewardship for God’s creation in the Birmingham area.
Taylor Burgess, president of RES, is devoted to the group’s mission to raise awareness about the environmental concerns of their university. However, Burgess believes their group is among the minority at Samford.
“Most Samford students have little interest in living in a sustainable way or supporting environmental causes,” she said. “I’m involved with the Samford chapter because of this lack of interest among the student body. There’s a great need for education and tangible projects for those who are interested.”
Restoring Eden Samford primarily advocates greener opportunities for Samford through a campus-wide recycling program. Aluminum and plastic recycling disposals are available in six different locations across campus. Paper recycling is encouraged in all main university buildings. In addition, the university offers cell phone and rechargeable battery recycling, as well as King’s Home donation boxes for all unwanted but still re-usable items. Since the university has yet to implement a glass-recycling program, RES volunteers take recyclable glass from Samford’s central campus to Alabama Environmental Council to be recycled. The organization also provides recycling opportunities at Samford sporting events, such as football games, and campus other events, including preview day.
Yet, recycling is not the group’s only success story. RES members believe strongly in their mission to serve the Samford environment daily in a variety of ways for God’s glory. One such example includes picking up coffee grounds from the on-campus O’Henry’s location and bringing them to Jones Valley Teaching Farm for composting. The group also hosts local food dinners, Earth Week activities, and environment awareness events to help educate the community on how to care for God’s natural creation.
Although RES is a small group of activists, they’re still making a big impact on the Samford community. This past spring, Restoring Eden Samford welcomed Ben Lowe, author and leader of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, to give a lecture to the Samford community about overcoming global climate crisis. In April, the group hosted a screening of several short films by the Southern Environmental Law Center to address threats to Alabama waterways.
The group also has plans to create and maintain a campus vegetable garden.“We’re currently researching and working out logistics for its development,” said Burgess. “If all goes well, we’ll have a small, sustainable, student-run garden that will yield vegetables we’ll be donating to a local farmer’s market.”
For more information on Restoring Eden Samford, visit their Facebook page.