Ursinus College is in the process of transitioning to a more unified approach to recycling. You may have noticed that there are currently green, yellow, and blue recycling bins on campus. The College is in the process of transitioning to all blue recycling bins with the hope that a color coded system will help people more easily distinguish between recycling bins and trash bins. All outside bins now have blue lids, which match the personal bins that are in student rooms, the athletic recycling bins, and the blue recycling bags. Colleen Monahan, Sustainability Fellow for Recycling and Composting, has been working with students to get an accurate count of how many recycling bins are located in each building as well as recommending locations for new bins.
College campuses produce a lot of waste much of which is recyclable. Students frequently use disposable plates, cups, utensils, paper, cardboard boxes, batteries, glass, aluminum, and ink cartridges. All of these products are recyclable and can be remade into other products in order to reduce waste. The first step is always to reduce your consumption, the second step is to reuse/repurpose what you have, and the third is to recycle whatever you cannot reuse or repurpose. When discussing the importance of recycling, Dr. Leah Joseph, professor of Environmental Studies, says, “Recycling not only keeps materials out of the landfill or incinerator, but often saves both energy and the need to mine raw materials from the Earth at the front end of product production as well.”
Our maintenance staff separates trash and recycling based on color coded bags (blue for recycling; clear for trash). However, if there is too much contamination in the recycling, such as leftover food scraps, liquids, or other non-recyclable materials, the entire bag has to go in the trash. To avoid this happening, it is important to take the extra care to separate trash from recycling. UC Sustainability Fellows as well as the student organization, Ursinus College Environmental Action, have created signs for Lower Wismer to inform students of what can and cannot be recycled. Over the next few years, the college will transition to all blue bins in academic buildings and it is our hope that with the support of faculty, students, and staff we can improve our recycling efforts.
by Olivia Keithley