March 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 81  

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Everyone passing buck

For years we have been told to recycle. Many of us come from towns and cities with recycling programs, and you would think most of us would eventually get the message by now.

Unfortunately, the message just can’t seem to get through. Recyclable waste is consistently thrown out with the rest of the garbage. All this is happening while there are recycling bins scattered throughout the buildings on campus.

The blame cannot be placed with any single group. The university’s administration, physical plant and students should all be doing something about it. Most would agree there is a problem with recycling on campus — what they don’t realize is that the real issue lies in the fact that no one is seriously addressing the problem.

All the interested parties are far too ignorant, apathetic and lazy about recycling to take any real action. There is so much that can be done, but there is so little immediate, tangible incentive — thus no initiative to change.

Awareness weeks for environmental issues have been tried over and over again, but how many students can even remember the last Environmental Awareness Week? There isn’t even awareness about awareness, so to speak.

Signs can be put up around garbage and recycling bins to direct people to throw the glass bottles into the glass bottle recycling bin, and put the garbage into the garbage bins, but the tendency is for people to just not use the recycling bins, whether through sheer laziness, irresponsibility or something else.

The Richard Ivey School of Business is a perfect example. The school disposes of plenty of fine paper and newsprint that can be recycled, however, a majority of that, according to survey data, finds its way into the regular garbage.

Is recycling actually that complicated?

There is something that can be done.

Recycling is not just a fad of the ’90s; awareness has to continue. The message must be beaten into people’s heads so they will recycle the appropriate waste.

Maybe the janitors who maintain Western’s buildings have to empty bins more regularly so they are not overflowing to the point where people don’t bother using the recycling bins.

Or perhaps what is needed is a program to set a quota (for every faculty) for the ratio of recycled waste thrown in with the plain, everyday garbage. With all the information gathered in a ranking of campus buildings’ performance, good environmental waste management could become a competition.

Either way, there is $100,000 allotted to the recycling budget, while the revenue is $25,000. Perhaps the real incentive lies in the fact that there is money to be made.

After all, it’s only a matter of getting the right piece of garbage in the right bin — something university students, faculty and staff should be able to handle.



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