Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A Trashpicker's Perspective
Last Wednesday, EcoAction embarked upon a recycling raid. This has become somewhat of an annual tradition for us ("annual" in that we do it every year, "somewhat" in that it is not attached to any time whatsoever.)
You thought only pirates raided, huh?
We broke into two teams to canvas the public buildings on campus. Team A, of which I was a part, focused on Lauinger, and Team B did ICC and Leavey.
The lesson from Lauinger is very simple: Isolated trash cans are a disaster waiting to happen.
This is an issue which we have raised in the past, especially in the context of the trash cans in classrooms. As the idealist that I try to be, I believe that people, if there is a recycling bin and a trash can next to each other, will make the appropriate and intelligent decisions when disposing of their waste. However, when making such a decision requires extra time and effort, the success rate will not be quite so high. If there is a trash container next to your cubicle in Lau, where you have been for hours writing a paper, you will probably put your Odwalla bottle or Coke can in it out of pure convenience. Centralization of trash/recycling facilities is a must.
Also, one of the other major issues is a general lack of awareness of what can and cannot be recycled. For many years, people did not even believe that the University recycled at all (an urban myth, of course)--but that is a whole new blog post in and of itself.
Anyways, with the new blue receptacles that are in all indoor locations, one can recycle more than one could in the past. Here are a few notes about common misconceptions:
1) After you get your coffee fix at UG, Midnight, or MUG, you can recycle the lid (made of plastic) and the clutch (made of cardboard). Unless the cup appears to be waxed or lined, you can recycle that, too.
2) You can recycle anything plastic (short of plastic bags-which are treated differently). So, that means that your smoothie cup or your Panebella wrap container can go in with all of the other plastics.
3) Solo cups can be recycled--no need to waste when wasted.
If you ever have a deep, burning question about recycling, just ask us, and we'd be happy to answer or, if we don't know, find out.
Stay tuned for a smattering of new blog posts on interesting developments this week!