By Michael Ahearne ’14
With clubs such as the Environmentally Sustainable Club and classes of students who collect all of the recycling each week, students may think that we are totally environmentally friendly.
That might not totally be the case though.
I see an unequal ratio of trash cans to recycling bins at Brophy, which I believe encourages more people to throw away items that may be recyclable.
After going around campus and counting the number of trash cans and recycling bins in the Great Hall, Plaza, outside the gym and Info Commons, the Mall, McCain Colonnade, Poet’s alley and outside of Piper, there are about 82 trash cans and 25 recycling bins.
Many items such as cardboard, aluminum foil, paper and plastics are all recyclable, yet when I pass by a recycling bin and a trash can that are right next to each other, I will always see the trash can filled more with recyclables than the recycling bin itself.
Things such as fairly clean Michael’s food baskets and all of the drinks and cups in Michael’s are also recyclable.
Even left over food waste can be recycled in one of the appropriate compost bins in the Plaza.
Some people may say that we have enough recycling bins and that we recycle enough.
It is true that in every classroom there is always at least one recycling bin. There are also multiple recycling bins in the Info Commons and in Romley Hall. The octagon area of the mall actually has more recycle bins than trash cans.
But, I like to look at the more obscure places and the ratio of trash cans to recycling bins there.
For example, there no recycling bins in places like the McCain Colonnade.
In some other places, trash cans easily outnumber recycling bins.
Students will tend to just throw away items into the nearest bin and with more trash cans than recycling bins, they are more likely to reach a trash can first and just toss it in it.
Another part of the problem, though, may be that students either just don’t realize that the items that have are recyclable or they don’t care enough to recycle.
In that case, no amount of recycling bins will make a difference, but with a presence of a recycling bin next to every trash can, this can serve as a reminder to some students to recycle more, and may even encourage students who otherwise wouldn’t to recycle.
Also, clearly marking recycling bins and placing a reminder somewhere on the bins may also help students to think twice before throwing away that empty bottle or empty cardboard tray.
Finally, students need to become more aware of why they should recycle and what is recyclable.
To be clear, the responsibility for recycling falls on the consumer—students—but more options can only make that responsibility easier to meet.
To make more students aware, we could decrease the amount of trash cans to the point where there will be more recycling bins than trash cans, reversing the current ratio, encouraging students to recycle first then trash.