Students, faculty, staff and campus groups like the Green League alike verbally recognize the importance of recycling in Shippensburg University’s Sustainability plan.
“Ship uses a comprehensive single stream recycling program … It’s quick and easy, and it means that more items end up recycled,” says the University website in regard to its recycling policy.
The plan, infrastructure, public relations, and overall facade is in place to make it seem that my first statement was true. However, if you take a look around campus for no more than two minutes, I can guarantee that you would see straight through this veil.
SU as a whole is lazy on recycling and makes it seem that the system is not “quick and easy” enough for them.
Several weeks ago I saw this in action after my professor dismissed class. I sat in the front row shutting down my computer, briefly peering up to see my fellow students exiting the room for a few seconds. In those few moments I saw not one, not two, but eight different students dispose of their non-decomposable plastic water bottles directly into a trash can.
Many claim that there must not have been any recycling cans nearby so that is why they threw them into a trash can. This claim however is utterly false. If anything, it is far from the truth. SU has a ton of recycling bins on campus located everywhere: In almost every classroom, outside of the residence halls, in the recreation center, and on every single floor of every academic building. In this example, there just so happened to be a recycling bin holding open the door no more than three feet from the trash can in which the eight bottles were thrown. So why did those eight students throw out an easily recyclable plastic bottle? Laziness.
At this point, many people will say “So what?” to those eight bottles, because it was such a small number. Look at the trash can in the library right outside of the Starbucks (which just so happens to be next to a recycling can). The trash can is always overflowing with recyclable plastic cups. What was the state of the recycling can? Half-full.
SU as a whole needs to start be more purposeful in its recycling. I know I have touched on my experience with seeing students, but I have also seen dozens of faculty and staff pitching their recyclable waste that is perfectly accepted per our waste disposal guidelines.
Is recycling one bottle going to save the world? No. However, if our campus pushes past our laziness on recycling, tons upon metric tons of waste will be recycled and diverted from landfills. I beg you to do your part.