Repelling the Landfill January 14, 2011
Clutching my weapon of choice close to my body I prepared myself for a battle I found myself facing on a weekly basis; a battle of wits and intelligence in which my opponents would take no prisoners. They were far too clever to play any foolish games instead they relied on my own personal will and lack of knowledge to pull me into a dark cave of guilt and nasty lies. Every week I face these foul fiends and every week they tell me to choose between blue or black- to choose between a renewed life and one that could scar my friends and family for generations to come. Holding my weapon tighter I face my first enemy cloaked in blue and confess to him that I do not know how to utilize my weapon against him and toss it reluctantly into the deep black garbage bag belonging to my second fiend, walking away, aching for new knowledge with which to defeat my enemies. If only I could say that I am alone in my defeat against the rowdy recycling bin and the grouchy garbage can, then perhaps, I wouldn’t feel so terrible in my quest for environmental sanctuary throughout the world (or at least the university). But the fact of the matter is that if I’m unwilling to acknowledge the consequences of my actions, chances are you’re in the same boat. Unfortunately for all of us, these consequences are costing us a great deal of additional resources; in 2005 the Container Recycling Institute recorded that for every 2 million tons of bottles and cans that were wasted instead of recycled, 18 million barrels of crude oil equivalent were consumed. In essence, as stated by Oberlin.edu, recycling your Rock Star saves 95% of the energy needed to produce a new can. With all of the blue bins surrounding our beautiful campus this is not the time for excuses but rather a time for action. As intelligent college students it’s about time we take charge of the way we manage our waste on campus. But the question of the hour is how will the campus manage our waste? There have been rumors that LSU’s single stream recycling system mixes the garbage and the recyclables together, only to separate them at the Waste Management Center. This could not be further from the truth, Andres Harris head of LSU Recycles says that, “Single stream recycling means that all the recycling materials, Cardboard/mix paper, plastic containers, aluminum/tin/steel cans go into the same recycling dumpster, not TRASH. The recycling foundation is the company in charge of servicing the 100 green dumpsters we have on campus. Another company (SDT) is in charge of empting the trash dumpsters.” In fact, LSU Recycles which became more aggressive in 2003 after implementing a Recycling Management head has collected over 1240 tons of recyclable beverage containers. And while the number is a great improvement from the beginnings of the LSU recycling program it’s not enough if the students haven’t the slightest clue about recycling. While every recycling bin has a clear cut description of what should be disposed of and what should be reduced, reused and recycled, the fact of the matter is students are still clueless about the difference between a number 2 recyclable and a cardboard container. Freshman Hannah Paul states,” I’m always unsure and end up throwing things away just in case and I’m sure I’m not the only one” Although LSU Recycles takes a firm stand on reducing waste; it will never be able to become fully efficient unless it gains the interest of the students teaching us about the importance of our actions and why we should long to defeat our ferocious landfill foes.