Last semester we voiced our concern over the lack of a recycling initiative on campus. Today, we would like to turn our attention to specific reasons why “green” is a color often overlooked at ACU.
Both regional and institutional norms make recycling (along with reducing and reusing) more a hassle than a solution. This means that if recycling is to become a part of campus culture, it is going to take both administrative efforts and a university-sanctioned budget.
Let’s begin by looking at the city parameters surrounding our university. Because the City of Abilene does not have a reprocessing recycling facility, city collectors must ship all recycling to other locations in the state, country and even the world. This takes money, energy and time. While Bob Ervin, manager of the Abilene recycling center, boasts a successful city recycling program, he also says money for upgrades is limited. A budget for building a reprocessing center currently exceeds the budget to transport reusable materials.
Despite cost and time factors, Ervin says the city prefers recycling. While taxpayers and the city pay to haul trash to city landfills, individual companies will often invest in shipping reusable materials to their own locations – greatly reducing the financial burden of transporting recyclable materials.
Recycling in mass quantities also takes the efforts of everyone involved in the process. It might make some people feel good, but voluntary recycling efforts won’t go very far. Reusing materials must be seen more as a business venture, with consequences and benefits, to give manufacturers an incentive to reuse materials and consumers an incentive to not just dump their waste.
Despite different opinions about recycling and various efforts to recycle, the limited supply of our earth’s resources remains an indisputable fact. Reducing, reusing and recycling helps keep us from exhausting the resources entrusted to us.
After looking at the benefits and consequences in the process itself, we must ask if the benefits and possible consequences of Â not recycling are enough to get ACU headed in a greener direction. We believe they should be, but we also believe that lasting changes to campus waste management must come from the top.
Dr. Jim Cooke, professor of environmental science, believes the ACU recycling program will continue to have weaknesses as long as it is voluntary. Without administration-sanctioned bins, advertisements, reminders and, most importantly, budgets, the recycling fervor of a handful of concerned students with only four years on campus will have little impact on a student body of 4,728.
Changes in policy are not easy. They take time and dedication, and they can be a hassle. We don’t want to ignore the obvious costs and problems that come with recycling, but we would like the administration and the student body to thoughtfully research and consider the benefits of going green.