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Recycling on campus (or not)

Next to almost every trash can on campus there is an accompanying recycling bin. One would think that this would make students more inclined to recycle and work on saving the Earth. However, this is not the case. Many times the trash cans will be overflowing with excess waste, while recycling bins remain empty.

Is the issue with UMBC’s promotion of recycling or is it a lack of student interest?

Luke Richards, a freshman computer science major, believes lack of student interest is to blame. “I try to recycle as much as I can since it is very important, especially in our environmentally-conscious generation, and UMBC does a good job at promoting recycling around the campus, but many times people are lazy and find it more convenient to merely throw away their waste in a trash can even if its recyclable,” said Richards.

“People have the same issue back in their dorms,” Richards continued. “Many people I know find it inconvenient to separate their trash and recyclables and empty them into the two different bins at the end of every dorm hall.”

This corresponds to the beliefs of many other students. Out of 15 students questioned, only seven said that they recycle as often as possible, while the remaining eight said that although it’s important, they only recycle when it’s most convenient. All of the students reported that they could do a better job recycling.

However, these students also believe that UMBC should take some responsibility for the lack of recycling on campus. “The waste bins in The Commons are extremely confusing. It’s quite difficult to distinguish the difference between what is recyclable, compostable and what should go to the landfill,” said Richards, “UMBC doesn’t really do a good job in clarifying what should go into which bin and the pictures above each bin confuse people more than they help people.”

So what can be done to remedy this issue? Richards believes that the best solution would be a student organization. “A lot of times, people won’t recycle because they don’t know what is recyclable and what isn’t,” said Richards. “A student body for recycling would bring more information on the basics of recycling and would not only educate students on how they can go green, but would also have an active role in promoting recycling throughout campus,” continued Richards.

Richards has a point. All 15 students surveyed said that an active student organization focused on this issue would help educate them and encourage them to recycle more. “The first step towards fixing an issue is awareness and a student organization would be the best way to bring awareness,” said Richards.