When you see the green and blue trash bins next to each other, which one should you choose?
The demand of recycling has turned into such an overlooked problem, specifically at Ursuline. You may not think you are making a negative impact by recycling the wrong items or not recycling at all, but while you continue to make these mistakes unknowingly, Ursuline can get fined.
Siena Theivagt ’22, manager of the UA Environmental Science Club, speaks on the issue of recycling at Ursuline and explains why doing so correctly is so important. She notes that Ursuline is fined $250 per dumpster that is contaminated.
“Think about how this avoidable fine adds up for Ursuline,” Theivagt said.
Looking even beyond the fines, recycling improperly also imposes many dangers to the environment.
How is a dumpster contaminated? Theivagt explains that “it can be as easy as deciding to recycle something like a mac and cheese cup that hasn’t been washed out.”
Our community’s main problem in relation to recycling is the lack of education regarding which objects can be recycled and which cannot. What people fail to realize is that not everything can be recycled, even if it is made up of recyclable materials.
Murray Pratt ’23, president of the Environmental Science Club, said, “I think one of the most important things we can do is educate the Ursuline community on which items can be recycled. We need to have clear, easy signage on recycling bins around campus so that students can easily differentiate between what goes in the trash versus the recycling.”
So, what goes in these green bins? The following items can be recycled as long as they are clean and free of waste: plastic bottles and containers, food and beverage cans, paper, flattened cardboard, food and beverage containers and glass bottles and containers.
Non-recyclable items include plastic bags, plastic wrap and film, cups with wax or plastic coatings, metals such as foil-wrapped objects, paint cans, pipes, lightbulbs, batteries, textiles, broken glass, plastic bags, Styrofoam, tissues and takeout containers.
Besides the problem of people recycling the wrong items, some people choose simply not to recycle at all. According to a study by Waste Wise, around 75 percent of waste in the U.S. is recyclable, yet only 30 percent makes it into the recycling bin.
The green bin, whenever items do fit the recycling criteria, should be an obvious choice for many reasons: it helps slow down global warming by cutting emissions, reducing water pollution, benefitting the economy by creating jobs and protecting wildlife.
How can we make a difference at Ursuline and at home? The best thing our community can do is to focus on reducing and reusing everyday materials.
Reducing simply means consuming fewer plastic products, and reusing means putting recyclable objects to future use.
Theivagt’s best tips for making a small difference include replacing plastic water bottles with reusable metal bottles, reusing plastic containers and bringing reusable eating utensils in your lunchbox.
She said, “When in doubt, just throw it away in the trash and avoid making the wrong recycling decisions.”
A good way to become educated on the problem of recycling and get involved is to become a member of an Ursuline social awareness club, The Environmental Science Club. This club educates students on how to better the environment through practices like recycling, reducing and reusing.
Last year the Environmental Science Club collaborated with students across the metroplex and hosted a fashion show at the Perot Museum, in which the participants created clothing solely from recycled materials. Planning to host this fun event again, the Environmental Science Club hopes that it will provide a fun, engaging way for Ursuline students to get involved.
By educating yourself, making smart recycling choices and getting involved in clubs like the Environmental Science Club, we can all work together not only to reduce Ursuline’s growing recycling fines, but also to make a difference in the environment.