Non-profit looks to add bikes lanes to DeKalb

By Logan Love

The Green Paws Environmental Alliance (Green PEA) is working on getting bike lanes installed in and around campus and its H2O to Go initiative.

“The university would do well to have bike lanes and try to have a more sustainable campus here,” said Eric Sterling, former president and founder of the organization and alumnus..”

Sterling said the group members were excited to receive a letter from NIU President John Peters notifying then that installation of bike lanes had become part of his 2020 initiative. However, as Peters will step down this July, the group is concerned the next president might not realize the necessity of bike rack availability around campus.

Green PEA is also working on H2O to Go, a campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on campus. The group wants to add more hydration stations to NIU.

The idea came from Joshua Nixon, sophomore energy and environmental technology major, who wanted to decrease the use of disposable water bottles. Though Nixon is not a member of Green PEA, he and the group thinks NIU should give incoming students reusable water bottles to reduce disposable water bottle waste.

“To motivate students to avoid disposable water bottles, giving out reusable water bottles to students for free is a key component of this project,” Nixon said in an email. “By giving out the water bottles for free, the number of people that receive the bottle would be greater than the number of people that would buy the same reusable water bottle. This would increase the chance of student using the bottles.”

Sterling said the cost of the water bottles should be included in tuition.

The group, which is still in its infancy, was the brain child of Sterling. Sterling formed the group when he couldn’t find an environmental organization on campus. Seeking a platform to achieve his environmental ends, Sterling formed the Green Paws Environmental Alliance.

Ashley Pales, Green PEA secretary and sophomore environmental studies major with an emphasis on water, is excited about the H2O to Go campaign and the activities the group has planned leading up to Water Day on April 22.

“Currently I’m planning a lot of Water Day things,” Pales said. “We’re doing taste testing soon [at the] Rec., Holmes and DuSable. I’m the only water emphasis in the group, so that’s near and dear to me.”

The taste testing is much like the popular Pepsi Challenge, Pales said. Students will be given different water samples and will choose which one tastes best.

Sarah Wawerski, Green PEA president and environmental studies major, has also been involved with the organization since its founding. She splits her time between the group and her job as undergraduate recycling coordinator for the university.

Wawerski said students living on and off campus without recycling can drop off their disposal in the recycling bin by the transportation building.

An event that has become a staple of the group is ReUseapalooza. ReUseapalooza focuses on how to re-use items. The event is also used to promote other goals of the group, like bike lanes and H2O to Go. The event will be held on April 5 at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, and will feature the bands Soul Junkie and Alexis and the Samurai, Wawerkski said.


For more information about Green Paws Environmental Alliance, its Ban the Bottle petition or upcoming events, visit it on Facebook at