It takes only a small amount of trash in a recycling bin to prevent an entire load from being processed eight percent of the material, according to Monroe County guidelines. Even before the recycling plant can reject UR’s recyclables, maintenance workers often toss bins cluttered with trash and food out as garbage. UR’s ignorance, especially students’, is both an unnecessary and preventable reason for waste.
While the Recycling Coordinator Amy Kadrie is working with campus groups to improve UR’s recycling, the most effective solution to UR’s poor recycling practices may boil down to simply correcting misconceptions through posters and online resources. For example, many at UR do not know or understand that paper cups from Starbucks, half-filled plastic bottles and even their bottle caps cannot be recycled.
The problem is not that UR cares too little, but that people do not discriminate enough in what they recycle. The push to recycle better and recycle more has not gone unnoticed Recyclemania helps raise awareness during its 10-week campaign, and the newly added EcoReps in freshman dorms have also posted information to educate their halls. Recently, Kadrie and her team have hung posters explaining what can and cannot be recycled in well-trafficked areas. However, students in Towers, Hill Court and on the Residential Quad still have little guidance about what should be recycled. While posting information in public areas may help marginally, a publicity campaign in the dormitories would have the maximum impact. A hanging poster in each room or suite, added at the start of the year, would reinforce good recycling habits. Meanwhile, if UR is prioritizing sustainability, it needs to ensure that every room has a recycling bin something a number of rooms on the Residential Quad currently go without.
It may seem counterintuitive to print material about recycling on paper adding waste to waste. However, by taking this foreseeable one-time step to distribute correct information, UR would address many wrongful assumptions about recycling. Not only would it mean more productive recycling on the River Campus, but it would hopefully reinforce good habits beyond college. With Recyclemania in full force, this is a prime time to raise awareness about how to properly recycle.