Campus waste should be reduced

By Da Yeon Eom, Columnist

When walking out of the apartments along Healey Street in Champaign, I always see garbage cans so jam-packed that the covers can’t even close.

Not only are the bulging trash bins problematic, but the contents are worrisome as well. Liquids that should have been drained from the bottles are leaking onto the sidewalks. Glass bottles are shattered by the weight of trash pressing on top of them. There are usually a couple of trash bags rolling next to the bins that missed the mark when residents threw them away. Lastly, it is a pretty standard issue to see several squirrels feasting on leftover pizza and beer cans.

College campuses are extremely wasteful environments. College students use an abundance of resources and appliances that are designed to last for a short amount of time. This system of planned obsolescence is damaging the Earth, and college students should take time when making a purchase to consider how long the object will last, and what impact it will have on the environment when it is thrown away absentmindedly.

Catherine Yee, a sophomore in the College of ESE and a member of Students for Environmental Concerns club, says, “There is a problem with overuse of everything on the campus. We are generating so much waste. College students need better knowledge of recycling to reduce the act of dumping.”

Organizations within the campus, such as the Students for Environmental Concerns or Student Sustainability Committee, have realized the issue and tried to make changes by increasing awareness of the amount of waste generated. They have operated several events including a clothing swap, plant sale and discussion forum with the Wildlife Society in April to seek out more involvement from campus members.

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    Members of the organizations say there is still “way too much garbage” and “not enough recycling bins installed throughout the campus.” Also, they added that highly populated locations such as the main Quad and the Union should be equipped with even more recycling bins.

    There have been many campaigns throughout the campus to encourage recycling. With the intent of reducing the usage of disposable cups, the Kill the Cup project had taken place where reusable coffee cups were recommended to be used. The University won amongst many colleges throughout the nation with the highest participation rate; however, after the campaign ended, the same amount of landfill from the past replaced the notion of “sustainability” for the better self-serving desire of comfort.

    Lauren McGinnity Boswell, a sophomore in the College of LAS and also a member of SECS, commented that “the milk jugs at Espresso Royale or Starbucks are often not recycled properly.” Given the number of customers that the two businesses receive, she feels a more environmentally friendly method of disposing of the waste should be implemented.

    There are enough resources and information about proper recycling and reducing waste that are readily accessible to college students. However, it is often the case that they disregard the need for contributing to more eco-friendly measures because of its inconvenience. Also, campaigns and other activities are capable of successfully engaging the members of the campus, but the attention doesn’t last long enough to cause a significant habit of environmental activism.

    Therefore, it is important that all members of the college be mindful of the items they purchase, the number of resources they utilize in daily life and the amount of waste that is disposed under their responsibility.

    Instead of putting in the effort to forcefully shut the trash bins, it would be a better investment of time, for the individuals and for the community, to sort out the materials for the purpose of committing to a sustainable environment.

    Da Yeon is is a sophomore in ACES.

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