Carry your Smartwater a few steps farther

Josette Corazza

We constantly hear about the importance of recycling, but how many students actually make the effort to save their graded papers and empty Gatorade bottles to deposit them in the proper recycling bins?

According to data compiled by the City of Lexington, only about 22 percent of households participated in the city’s recycling program in 2017. And according to Washington and Lee’s website, our school’s goal is “zero waste,” yet it seems the recycling effort on campus is not exactly conducive to this goal.

There is not only a disappointing lack of recycling bins across campus, but also a lack of a united effort to recycle. While recycling bins are peppered throughout main buildings such as the library and Commons, they are not placed in outdoor areas or even along the main walking paths.

Although students should ideally hold onto their recyclable items until they can find the right receptacle, people are rarely willing to and simply deposit these objects into the nearest trash cans. Because trash cans are placed in outdoor areas and along main walking paths, this is a tempting solution for people carrying recyclable waste.

The addition of recycling bins alongside most or all trash cans on campus would greatly reduce the problem of people putting recyclable material into the trash. With the simple single-stream recycling system here on campus, students would not have to devote any extra time to figuring out the correct receptacle to place their recycling.

Perhaps the university has not implemented extra recycling bins due to the cost or time associated with such change. However, in the long run, the cost and time it takes to install some extra recycling bins in a small-scale setting is minimal compared to the cost and time linked to handling the large-scale problem of overfull landfills.

According to a study by Brigham Young University, it costs on average $30 per ton to recycle trash and $50 per ton to send it to a landfill. The university could actually save money in the long run by recycling materials instead of sending them to the landfill.

As of now, the campus contains a disappointing number of recycling bins, but students can make a positive change on their own by making the concerted effort to place recyclable materials in the proper receptacles, even if that means holding onto trash until arriving at a place on campus where recycling bins are present.

A strong relationship exists between the university and its students. Without students that care about the environment, the university will be unsuccessful in achieving its environmentally progressive initiatives. Similarly, without a university that assists students in creating positive change, they will struggle to find the resources and guidance necessary to do so.

Everyone on campus should work to save the environment through efforts both large and small. From carrying recycling a few steps further to place it into the proper receptacles to improving the green initiative on campus, any attempts to reduce the university’s environmental impact are equally important.