Green Corner: It doesn’t take a cape to save the world: Just recycle

It’s late April and raindrops patter off the pavement as students rush in and out of Cranberry’s. A student runs by and tosses her trash, all of it, into the garbage bin. I want to scream at them and say, “There’s recycling in that.”

Recently, all the recycling bins in Cranberry’s were retrofitted with large holes cut in the top for easier access and recycling. Alas, as I sat on a dreary, rainy day, I watched as the general student body was confused by the bins or just disregarded the signs all together.

Rumors were flying. People asked each other, “Why even bother recycling? I heard they just throw it all in the trash anyway.” What is the point then? Why recycle at Rider?

Statistically, the EPA says that over 75 percent of waste seen in everyday life can be recycled, but in actuality, only 30 percent of said waste is ever actually recycled. So, what happens to the other 45 percent of trash, you may ask?  One frightening aspect is that not all trash is sorted; some companies will trash an entire bag, or even a 30-yard dumpster, even if there are pollutants present in the recycled products. The company that Rider uses for our waste disposal did just that recently.

There is risk in separating out recycling, since it’s a highly intensive process that actually requires sorting by hand.  The load is sent down a conveyor belt and employees are made to sort up to 550 pounds of trash a day. By recycling your sushi, salad container or aluminum can, you could help change the norm. This small bit of effort could change a mindset and encourage others to do the same. Recycling also saves energy, prevents waste from reaching landfills, conserves natural resources and more. On Rider’s website there is a handy guideline of what can be recycled. For example, all plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, and even aluminum along with paper and cardboard, are all able to be recycled on our campuses. Rider also supports single-stream recycling, which means that even if you throw paper in the recycling bin intended for cans, it does not matter. All the recycling is sent through a “single stream,” meaning it all gets recycled regardless.

Recycling on its own will not save the world. This article is not meant to convince you of that. But it could, one can at a time, create a difference in our little world of Rider University. And, if it helps, you can start wearing your red cape after recycling because you’ve made strides towards changing the world, so you are a super hero.

But on a serious note, recycling is something small that can become second nature. If we all recycle, we don’t need to worry about anyone else missing our recycled products, and together we have made Rider University a cleaner, greener place. If we want the rumor changed, that all the waste in Cranberry’s just goes into the trash, then we need to do our part and the rest will follow. Essentially, this is a plea from me to you.  Bill Nye the Science Guy said it best last year when he paid us a visit: “Together we can change the world.”

—Kevin Miller

Lawrenceville Eco Rep

 

Printed in the 04/13/16 issue.

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