As we celebrate Earth Day today we feel Emporia State should take a moment to seriously evaluate its current campus wide recycling program. We feel it is time to step up our commitment to our community and to our environment by expanding our recycling program to the next level.
The current recycling program on campus is minimal. There are eight buildings throughout campus that are included in the official recycling routine. Paper and aluminum cans are collected on a regular basis by a paid student employee through the Physical Plant on campus. This includes buildings such as King, Beach, Roosevelt and the science building. The bins are short and round blue with holes cut in the top to collect cans. The paper recycling can be found in various department offices throughout the buildings.
In addition there are a few buildings that continue their own recycling programs. These buildings are the union the library and the HPER building. Some of these programs have been operating for over ten years and are maintained by staff faculty and even students.
Campus wide recycling has been a project that has been underway for over a decade. Through various incarnations of the environmental club on campus students have petitioned the student government and the administration for a comprehensive campus recycling program.
When the program did not see completion it was due to one of the following obstacles: lack of funding, lack of a structured plan, lack of student involvement, or lack of volunteers to do the work. More often than not what occurred was that the students involved in the environmental club graduated and the club disappeared. Without those students to pressure the administration there was no strong incentive to carry forward the work.
Over the last three years, the current generation of ESU’s Environmental Club has been working to create a sustainable and affordable solution to the campus recycling issue. They have worked with the physical plant to create a paid student position, the same one that is in place now. The club has also worked with the residential halls to set up basic types of recycling programs in Towers and Morse.
Currently, there is a proposal created by the physical plant to expand what campus recycling already exists. The plan would increase the student position, either by increasing their weekly hours or by hiring additional employees, and spread to additional buildings.
This plan would be best for campus. We feel that a comprehensive plan that covers all buildings on campus is needed to fully commit to recycling.
Another important component is that the work is done by paid workers and not volunteers. The earlier versions on the plan relied on student volunteers to do the work of changing bins and collecting the recycled material. This allows for mistakes and misses if the volunteers do not do their work. With employees there is a stronger sense of accountability and it guarantees that the work will get done. It also creates a stronger sense of sustainability for the program, as the employee position can be refilled on a yearly basis, instead of having to find new volunteers on every year.
Emporia State has an obligation to reduce its impact on the environment and community. We should serve as stewards to our planet and help preserve it for future generations. The easiest and most effective way to do this is by supporting this new proposal for campus recycling.
Take time to talk to faculty and staff on campus about making recycling happen. Email the administration to let them know you support a recycling program. The best way to show your support of a recycling program is by supporting what is already existent on campus. Help fill the recycling bins that are already on campus to show there is substantial student support for recycling.