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Walking on Thin Ice
Appealing to apartments: The potential for off campus recycling
Word Count: 687 without the byline
From Shoulder pads to parachute pants, the 1980s are remembered in a variety of ways, one of the most important being the beginning of the recycling revolution.
The Vancouver Observer recalls the event as though it were yesterday, the Mobro 4000, a barge pulled out of the New York Harbor in 1987 held the intention of having it’s multiple tons of garbage landfilled in North Carolina but was refused. The barge continued on a 6 month journey only to be refused time and time again until it was finally able to empty its load in Brooklyn, New York.
What made this story so momentous during the time period was not the journey itself but the idea that we had run out of space for all of our trash. And while we have faced countless improvements since then, going from 600 cities with curbside recycling to over 10,000 within a span of only three years, allocating our trash instead of putting it all in a landfill, some things never change.
Recycling is still unavailable to 78% of our student population.
As of fall 2010 enrollment 78% of the university’s students were recorded by the Budget and Planning committee as living off campus and thus, only have access to recycling while they’re walking the school grounds.
Assuming that the average student spends around 3 to 4 hours a day in classes, where do you suppose they spend the remainder of their time?
Where do you suppose they consume the most waste?
Personally, I love the campus but if I lived elsewhere, I wouldn’t stick around to watch the grass grow. Instead I would spend my time, on a couch watching movies.
I might pop some organic popcorn or drink a can of soda, proud that I spent the time to take care of the environment but disappointed to think that my apartment complex doesn’t care, making my views utterly pointless as everything is tossed into the trash.
Yet, it’s not so much that off campus facilities don’t want to utilize more environmentally friendly practices, it’s that they feel like they can’t.
Of the 5 off campus residencies I interviewed, Tiger Manor, The Burbank Commons, Campus Crossings Brightside, Sterling Northgate and University Crescent only two plan on implementing any sort of facility wide recycling system in the future and it’s because of supposed cost inefficiency.
Because apartments don’t fall under city programs, the facilities have to pay for recycling themselves.
Jessica O’Neill, the Property Manager of Sterling Northgate (where individual residents may request recycling bins), says," I’ve actually called to look into it and it’s a little expensive and we already pay a lot for trash pickup."
The sad truth is that O’Neill isn’t alone, between cost of recycling pick up and labor expenses to monitor contamination to the recyclables coupled with the strict city guidelines, many residencies just aren’t seeing the perks past the penalties.
Bob Billemuth of Baton Rouge Recycling says that while the initial funding into the bins and pickup may cost a bit, the garbage bins which are also paid for by the facilities, are valued by frequency of pick up and the volume of trash. If the trash is separated into recyclables, then pick up will be required less often for both bins and as such, ultimately save the facility money.
That is, if the recyclables remain uncontaminated.
Trash completely devalues the recyclables and makes the point mute but our university can help.
Aside from our wonderful can do personality and friendly spirit, LSU provides education and that’s what needs to be done in the case of recycling as well; whether it be on campus or off, a lack of knowledge causes more harm than good.
University Crescent made their decision to start recycling because of prospective students and their concern for the environment and there’s no reason other facilities won’t follow behind, if they’re asked to.
If we could attempt to focus our attention on educating each other about recycling and demanding it from our temporary homes, as we should, a substantial need in our community could be met one resident at a time.