Ridiculous recycling: Where are the blue bins?

By on April 4, 2007

Kevin West, a leading environmental writer and editor, explained that recycling half of your household waste can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming, every year.

At Quinnipiac, the facilities department is in charge of recycling. After Kevin Aries met with Keith Woodward, the Associate Director of Facilities, the efficacy of campus recycling remains unclear. Aries, a sophomore, and the head of the Quinnipiac chapter of the Roots and Shoots program, discovered through Woodward that facilities does make the effort to recycle. It even has a particular dumpster designated for recyclables. Whether all the recyclables get put in this dumpster is debatable, and the facilities department is by no means perfect. Yet, Aries also recognized that students carry some of the responsibility for campus recycling.

“Facilities staff does not separate trash from recyclables, nor should they have to,” Aries said. “We [students] are all smart enough to distinguish a trash can from a recycle bin. If they are mixed together, no one should have to dig through it.”

We have to be conscious of where we put our disposables.

I am baffled at the insensitivity surrounding recycling on campus. I constantly see both students and faculty disposing recyclable waste in garbage designated bins. Whose fault is it that on a weekly basis? There are giant trash bags piled outside of each residence hall filled with a mix of recycling and garbage. The students are accountable in these situations, not facilities. Sure, facilities is not perfect, but when the staff sees a bin filled with plastic bottles and half of a leftover pizza, their job is to automatically assume it is garbage. Despite our responsibility as students, the university also has a primary role in this problem.

I live in Larson and throughout both semesters this year I have not seen one standard blue recycling bin in the hallways. Where are we, as students, supposed to put all our paper, plastic and cardboard? The Quinnipiac University recycling policy, which I found after some laborious searching and mouse clicking, is buried behind several links on the MyQ homepage. It devotes a small section to each residence hall explaining where recyclables are to be placed. For the sophomore suites, “white paper, newspapers and magazines, cans, bottles and glass are to be placed in the metal recycling bins located in the lobby of your building.”

All the bins in the building are metal, so which ones are devoted to recyclables? I remember living in Irma as a freshman and wondering the same thing. The bins in the trash closets looked exactly the same. Eric Ostrowsky, a facilities employee said if anything, the problem lies in the dorms.

“There are not always recycling bins in the trash closets [in freshman dorms],” Ostrowsky said.

Ostrowsky suggested putting a recycling bin outside each dorm. Wherever there is a garbage bin, there should be a recycling bin. This is unacceptable, and I suggest the university invests in recycling distinguishable bins for the residence halls.

Furthermore, there are ways to increase your knowledge and step up to the plate on this pressing issue. At the last Roots and Shoots meeting, about 10 students gathered to discuss possible ways to increase the amount of recycling on campus. According to Aries, the Roots and Shoots program is “a national organization under the Jane Goodall Institute. It’s a powerful youth-driven organization with more than 8,000 groups in over 100 countries.”

Our planet is changing dramatically. I challenge everyone at Quinnipiac to recycle on a daily basis and stunt the effects of our dwindling natural environment.


About Nick Engles