Sustainability branch keeps motivating students to recycle correctly

By Piper Sartison
Elm Staff Writer

The Washington College sustainability branch continues  its focus on promoting a stable and healthy environment for the WC community.

According to WC Auxiliary and Utilities Services Team Leader Lea Carter, the recycling team can divert approximately 6,500 pounds of trash from landfills. Kent County works with the auxiliary team in gathering recyclable materials and other waste from College students.

“I know recycling takes time and everybody’s in a hurry, but a few simple steps could really make things a lot easier. Not only for us, but for the students,” Carter said. “Auxiliary Services have ensured proper signage over bins in residence halls for students to read in understanding where to put their waste.”

According to Carter, Auxiliary Services oversee organizing trash, moving furniture, recycling, setting up events on campus, and snow removal. They collect recycling bins and separate the waste based on the type of material. 

“It seems like from year to year [we give things a fresh look],” Carter said.  According to Carter, before her team was organized, the students formed a volunteer group to gather recycling bins from residence halls.

According to Interim Director of Sustainability and Regenerative Living ’03 Shane Brill — who is also in charge of providing environmental guidance to administration and students here on campus — this initiative “started as a very simplistic effort that was student-led.”

“The success of recycling at the College shows the power the students have in effecting change in our campus,” Brill said. “WC faces the same challenges that institutions around the country do. [We] are immersed in a culture of consumption and its really difficult to see that we are [actually a part of the natural world, [and] recycling is an effort to replicate what happens in nature where nothing is wasted.”

The garage located behind the Campus Garden is where Auxiliary Services sort through the recycling bins. Carter noticed that a lot of students put their plastic snack containers in the recycling when they are really meant for the trash.

According to Carter, “anything from the dining hall” — including sandwich containers, to-go cups, and fruit containers — “is not recyclable.” Other non-recyclable items include yogurt containers, drink cups, and plastic utensils, according to the website.

Items that can be recycled include, according to the website, metal and plastic bottles; metal cans; milk and other beverage jugs; clean and dry paper products such as newspaper, brown paper, and junk mail; cardboard boxes; batteries, cartilages, and other electronics; and clean and dry plastic materials, including bubble wrap, padded envelopes, and plastic bags, including zip-lock bags. Designated locations for where each item can be recycled on campus are available on the website.

Additionally, the WC sustainability branch also continues to encourage students to recycle organically, or compost, at the Campus Garden. Items that can be composted include all food scraps; paper napkins, tissues, and towels; and pizza boxes, according to the website.

“When I was raised, you didn’t have all the plastic, you didn’t have all the Styrofoam,” Carter said. “[Items] were wrapped in butcher paper [and milk jugs were in reusable glasses], [and] I think we should fight for those because … it eliminates so much waste.”

“The challenges WC faces are the same ones inherent of our culture of consumption and waste,” Brill said. “It fosters an awareness of how we can participate [with] natural rhythms to keep use aligned with our human capacity on this planet.”

According to Brill, by bringing awareness to the importance of recycling, appreciation for the environment will grow within the community.

Photo by Jakob Watt

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