Recycle your opinion on recyclables

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

June 7, 2007 Ed Cartoon

In EnviroWestern’s recent annual waste audit, it was determined only 38 per cent of the campus’ recyclables are disposed of properly.

In a society with an increasing environmental consciousness, why aren’t more students recycling?

For the university, the waste figures add up financially. The audited buildings produced 16,000 pounds of garbage per week. Western pays disposal fees of $400,000 annually. With the proper separation of recyclables, Western could cut the amount of waste headed to the landfill by 70 per cent.

Western has done its part over the years to promote recycling. And it should. As a leader in society, universities should be places that are active in “going green.” However, Western must continue to improve its recycling program, and to that end, the onus is on students to make recycling a concern. After all, their laziness is partly to blame.

Students live in their own insular world and are often consumed with their own agendas. If recycling isn’t made easy and convenient, they will not take the time out of their day to address it. Despite all the recent talk about global warming, it seems like environmental consciousness simply isn’t registering with many students.

What else, then, can the university do? Perhaps the answer is a creative solution. For instance, a competition between Western residences, cross-town Fanshawe College or other Ontario universities would generate some buzz about the topic and give apathetic students a push in the right direction.

With different types of recycle bins on campus, it can be difficult for recycling to become habitual. Consistency would go a long way in establishing a sense of recognition in students, who would then more readily use the bins.

Also, a little extra money could be spent on placing even more receptacles in the high-traffic areas on campus. If so much money is already committed to disposing lots of garbage, improving the campus’ recycling system is a wise financial decision. Putting more bins around Western would make the recycling process more convenient; ultimately it’s convenience that will improve the poor statistics.

Still, recycling is a grassroots initiative. For students’ habits to change, they must look closely at their own attitudes and modify them. After all, no amount of top-down policy will improve the audit’s figures.

Both Western and its students have a shared responsibility in improving the university’s rates of recycling. We all must do our part to make this happen.

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