Opinion Piece: Recycling on Campus

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MISHAWAKA—The benefits of recycling are endless. They range from keeping straws from killing sea turtles, to stopping plastic soda can holders from suffocating dolphins and sea lions. Recycling also helps to stop deforestation by assisting the demand for raw materials. It also helps to prevent adding to the gas that already cycles into the air and contributes to the climate change problem.*

Hopefully, these reasons make clear how necessary it is to recycle. At the very least, for college students it means fewer trips to the dumpsters outside the dorms if they sort their recyclables.   

However, there are not many places on Bethel’s campus that are readily available for students to recycle. This makes recycling difficult for students, which is a serious disadvantage to both Bethel and the environment.  

Founders Village and Sailor Residential Center have a bin solely for cardboard, but these are the only places that exist for large cardboard boxes or things of that nature anywhere for students. Bridges Hall has a bin for sorting recyclables, but it is often overflowing, and cardboard is spread on the ground with different colors and sizes, making it uneven and noticeably untidy. Tuckey and Manges halls (which make up Sailor) have two small bins for both dorms to share.  

This becomes a disadvantage to Bethel students when it comes to recycling; especially as students may already struggle to do so. 

A group of concerned students hope to start a petition and to spark interest among the student body and those who wish to make a difference. A motion has begun to add recycling options around campus.  

At the very least, the hope is for options at the Dining Commons, Sufficient Grounds, and the Acorn, where the majority of the recycling needs stem from because of paper cups, plastic bags, straws and other paper and plastic products.  

A worker at Sufficient Grounds even said that it is “too hard” to recycle there, so they just do not do it at all.  

Another disadvantage that hinders students from recycling is not having the knowledge necessary to do so. A female in Bridges said, “It [recycling] scares me sometimes, because I am not always sure what I can recycle and what I can’t.” 

Things that can always be recycled are glass, plastic, cardboard, and paper if they are cleaned out. If they are not cleaned out the trash bins and other products can become contaminated.  

The bins in Sailor accept mixed materials and do not need to be sorted at all if they are cleaned properly, which usually just means rinsed.  

Stephanie Katzelis at the Physical Plant expressed her opinion that there are some plans that Bethel could include for students. This would include the plan to add recycling options for students, and other simple changes like signs above the dorm bins for students to know what is able to be recycled in them and what is not. 

The lack of recycling options also comes down to funding. This is another reason that the whole campus needs to get involved.  

Katzelis said, “If enough students are interested in better options, it becomes much easier for changes to be made.”  

Keep recycling in mind especially on Earth Day, April 22. Please watch for emails before fall semester as a plan is in the works by students who are interested in making a change.  

*Sources:  

Island of Jersey (St. Helier, United Kingdom) website  (www.gov.je/Environment/WasteReduceReuseRecycle/WhyRecycle/Pages/Benefits.aspx)  

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife website (www.fws.gov/refuges/features/OceansOfTrash.html

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