The student sub-committee of the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee is putting their best foot forward to change the culture of recycling at SDSU.
Within the last year the efforts of ESSC and the student sub-committee have resulted in the placement of recycling bins across SDSU’s campus for the first time. They have increased participation and improved results in the nation-wide competition Recyclemania, as well as various awareness events. They also played a role in getting the recycling bags that are available at all of the residence halls front desks, and recycling and trash crushing dumpsters are estimated to arrive at the end of the month.
Currently the only places available for students to recycle are a few bins in classroom buildings, bins in residence hall lobbies, bins in The Union and a few large dumpsters on campus.
The committee’s most recent endeavor is trying to get a recycling bin on every floor of each of the residential halls. Junior environmental science and biology major Jennifer McLaughlin, a member of both committees, has been in contact with representatives from the Penn State Residential Life to gather ideas and general insight on how to implement a similar plan locally.
“They have 54 dorms and 14.000 students living on campus and they have implemented recycling bins into all of their dorms,” McLaughlin said. “They gave us a ton of ideas, and being able to talk with them was a huge step forward.”
The group was able to take a lot from the Penn State discussions and are currently finding data to illustrate the need for recycling on campus, the cost of efficiency, overall waste management and are working on events to get students directly involved in the greener, sustainable culture.
Thomas Cox, a graduate student and member of both committees, is currently working on acquiring a grant from Coca-Cola that would award SDSU the full amount of recycling bins asked for. The grant calls for an essay explaining why SDSU should be awarded the bins over another school. The application is due in the spring and if SDSU is awarded the bins, they will arrive on campus next fall.
“It seems like it should be a very simple paper to write but it should be convincing. We want the data and the numbers to back this up,” Cox said.
While SDSU’s Residential Life has been welcoming to the group’s ideas, the implementation of the recycling bin poses a few logistical problems that are currently being sorted out. Director of Residential Life Jeff Hale, pointed out that the problem of potential safety code violations could come in to question. Recycling bins would not be able to be put directly into hallways due to safety codes. Hale also doesn’t want to burden the custodial staff with having take out the extra recycling bins.
Cox discussed briefly potential remedies for these problems such as keeping the bins in lounges or other public rooms on the floor to keep the bins easily accessible and potentially putting students in charge of managing the recycling.
According to McLaughlin, the largest obstacle that the group is facing is awareness and membership.
“It’s not enough to stick [recycling] in their faces; we have to educate them as well,” McLaughlin said. “Instead of taking your bottle and putting the trash, where it’s just going to sit in a landfill and take years to break down … you can take it and put it in a recycling bin … In a world where we’re running out of resources, this is vital.”