Walking into any classroom on campus, one can see varieties of refreshment; from M&Ms to Mountain Dew to Big Macs to green tea, college students are often eating on the run.
But what do these students do with all of the wrappers, aluminum cans, bottles and other trash generated by the throw-away, convenience-driven culture in which they are living?
The only recycling center on campus in which bins are readily available is in Zona-Luce, the agriculture and environmental science building.
According to Don’t Mess With Texas, a state-wide anti-littering campaign, one in three Texans admits to littering, and residents’ tax dollars are used to clean up the mess, to the tune of $35.5 million a year.
According to a statistical Web site of the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling, recycling should be a serious concern. Before the 1920s, 70 percent of the U.S. cities ran programs to recycle certain materials. During World War II, industry recycled and reused about 25 percent of the waste stream. The nation’s composting and recycling rate rose from 7.7 percent of the waste stream in 1960 to 17 percent in 1990. This rate has been rising rapidly ever since.
The average American throws away seven and a half pounds of garbage every day, which is compacted and buried into landfills. As this waste build-up grows, so do the pressures on America’s landfills, resources and environment.
Despite the need for conservation and recycling, most students that we talked to admitted they hadn’t really thought about recycling or littering before and because of our affluence as Americans, carelessness about trash is the easiest option.
However, many students noticed the lack of recycling bins on or around campus. Team 55 employees said that they would love to have more paper recycling in their labs, but they lack time and staff to devote to the effort.
It is not difficult to help recycle, said Dr. James Cooke, professor of environmental science.
“The city of Abilene will provide all of the recycling bins you want, all with a single phone call,” he said.
The city picks up recyclables at four locations on campus every Wednesday morning. All that is required is to bag up the contents of the bins and have them ready for pick-up.
“I believe that the way we treat the gift relates to how we think of the giver,” Cooke said. “We need to value this creation and our creator enough to take care of it.”
College students are busy and some amount of waste can’t be prevented; however, we would like to urge everyone to think before tossing and make use of the few recycling bins on campus.
Then, all of the Cokes, Big Macs and munchies that we carry to class can find their way back through the system to be reused and rejuvenate the environment.