Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There Are Bins!

A big step forward was made today across the campus of Lasell College as recycling bins were stationed in key areas. Wass, Wolfe, the mail room, Winslow, and the Athletics Center all now have bins to recycle cans, bottles, and paper. This follows the placement of recycling bins for cans and bottles in the trash rooms of the dormitories last week. Recycling provides a visible signal that the college is concerned about sustainability issues and I am very happy to finally see a system in place.

While we had some bins scattered across campus already, the recycling was poorly managed and frequently the contents of bins ended up in the trash. Now we have launched a more comprehensive program with a staff member employed to actively manage the collection of recycling across the campus. Linda Williams should be thanked for the hard work she has put into getting a recycling program started. She has operated under a limited budget and under pressure from highly verbal professors such as myself advocating for recycling. Linda has been working hard to purchase recycling bins and to train our new staff member. It is a great start and we look forward to hearing her ideas on what we can do to continue to improve our recycling rate.

Now that there are options to recycle in the dorms and academic buildings it is important that students, faculty, and staff utilize the system. We need a to create a culture in which a community members feel shame when they throw a water bottle or paper in the garbage. Students, faculty, and staff need to make comments to others when they observe them throwing recyclables into the trash. Cans, bottles, and paper are the bulk of the trash in the academic areas. All of these items should now make it into the recycling bins.

At the Lasell College Strategic Planning Session I proposed setting a goal of reaching a 30% recycling rate within four years. This means that 30% of our waste (recycling is still waste) will end up in the recycling stream. While the recommendation was not adopted, I am going to recommend the Environmental Sustainability Committee formally embrace the goal. Our annual report will include data on the amount of waste and the amount of recycling generated on campus. It is important we develop a system so we can measure our progress. Cans, bottles, and paper are a start but to reach the 30% goal we will have to continue to find creative ways to recycle more waste material. Students in the dormitories should have the opportunity to recycle as many waste materials as possible. I will continue to advocate for single stream recycling in the dorms. For now we should celebrate the arrival of a recycling system on campus and start changing the waste culture on our campus.

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