Rachael Murtaugh, Sustainability Director

on the Hill

For the Common Good

New Sustainability Director Brings Ideas, Action

By Amanda Mayotte ’15

New Sustainability Director Rachael Murtaugh has had a love for wildlife and nature since childhood.

“Growing up, I was always in the woods, looking at animal tracks and wild plants,” Murtaugh says. “In college, I really started learning about the complexity of life on our planet and the many trials it faces—I knew I didn’t want to just sit on my hands and do nothing.”

And action she takes. In her first two months at MMU, Murtaugh has amassed a list of accomplishments that includes two grant applications, community connections to aid in resources and collaboration, a student sustainability club dubbed Environmental Community Organizers (ECO), and plans for ventures like vegetable and herb gardens, recycling and tiny trash campaigns, erosion reduction, and native plant installation.

Murtaugh’s long-term goals are just as ambitious: green roofs, solar panels, and composting.

“MMU has an incredible energy when it comes to sustainability, and it has made excellent progress,” she says. “I think we are off to a great start, but there is more to be done.”

Murtaugh’s position was made possible by a $425,000 grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies awarded to Mount Mercy in August 2017. ■

5 Tips to Live a Sustainable Life

  1. Find alternatives to single-use plastics (grocery bags, sandwich bags, bottled water, single-serving packaged snacks, straws, etc.).
  2. Buy local whenever possible.
  3. Limit your driving by finding efficient routes and schedules to avoid backtracking and multiple trips.
  4. Recycle what you do use (electronics, appliances, paper, plastic, metals).
  5. If possible, compost. If you live in Cedar Rapids, items like plant-based food scraps, napkins, and paper towels go in your yard waste bin.

Sustainability Pro Tip

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start small and go from there. Small changes are an easy way to chip away at big barriers.