Recycling: Coyotes, We Need to Talk
Those on a college campus live a busy, multitasking-filled life. Our speedy lives are a facilitator of throw "away" mentality: to-go cups, over-packaged everything, online orders, quick purchases, and at the center of it all, convenience. Many people don't take the time or responsibility to properly dispose of our materials when we're done with them. Members of the Columbia University Greens found that each college student on average produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year. It was estimated that college students in the United States alone contribute over 200 million tons of waste annually! Yet, wasting is a choice. A material is not waste until it's wasted! So how wasteful are we Coyotes? What can we do to reduce that number, if not completely bring it to zero? One point of diverting waste is recycling. I am USD's first ever campus recycling coordinator. Since my start in June 2019, I've navigated the haphazard ways our campus recycling has operated for many years. Our solid waste hauler provides a report card showing our materials hauled away from campus every month. On average, Coyotes are recycling only 3% of the waste we're creating. We are averaging almost 82 tons, or 164,000 Pounds of landfilled materials MONTHLY. While averaging about 2 tons (4,000 pounds) of recycling per month. This is not because all of our landfilled materials are not recyclable, though. As a campus, we are throwing away recyclable and reusable materials. A throwaway society will find themselves buried in their own garbage sooner or later. We need to take responsibility for the waste we create individually and as an institution. My work this year has allowed me to assess our current status on solid waste and begin building opportunities for USD to be a low waste, high impact university moving toward a sustainable future.
Willis, Abigail, "Recycling: Coyotes, We Need to Talk" (2020). IdeaFest. 125.