Saving the Planet, One Cardboard Box at a Time

In an effort to further GCSU’s sustainability awareness and effectiveness, nine different recycling stations were set up in convenient locations on the one day of the year when Georgia College’s waste output is significantly upped: move in day. In the sweltering heat, roughly 18 selfless, charitable volunteers manned the stations and spent the day flattening cardboard boxes and slowly but surely bettering the planet’s welfare. Volunteers cheerily intercepted numerous students and their parents as they headed for the dumpsters, and, at the end of the day, took the numerous containers to the train depot to be deposited to the center campus recycling center.

However, these noble efforts were not devoid of inconveniences. Based on a report written by Mary Plauche, many students were unaware of which items were recyclable. Another difficult aspect of the day was the sheer heat which the volunteers and to endure. Mary also reported that while snacks were abundant, water supply was of constant importance.

In comparison to numerous other colleges, GCSU’s move-in day recycling program is actually quite unique. Upon researching universities such as UGA, Georgia Southern, and University of North Georgia, Georgia College was the only one with such a structured and involved program. However, Texas Tech’s program closely rivals ours. After interviewing a representative of Tech’s sustainable housing resource, it was evident that although our recycling methods are roughly the same (majority cardboard materials, stations set up around campus), they incorporated student involvement in ways that GCSU hasn’t.

“We participate in Recyclemania, which is a competition that encourages students to be more ‘green’”, says Melanie Tatum of Tech’s sustainability team. “Several times in the competition we hand out shirts in exchange for a bag of recycling,” and we’ve all seen the powerful allure of free t-shirts on a college campus. Texas Tech also takes care to recycle other materials, such as textiles, electronics, and even styrofoam, which take at least 500 years to decompose. “We have a densifier that will take a 10 lb bag and densify it into a 10 lb brick, which we will put on a truck and ship to the recycling facility,” she says on the process.

Recycling, as vital staff member Emma Brodzik states, is “the crux of sustainability,” and is a great starting point for getting students of GCSU at least halfway involved in an eco-friendly lifestyle.

“Being conscious of your waste is an indicator that you’re making a definite push for sustainability”, she says: and this is undeniably true. However, we could take some cues from Texas Tech and make the process a bit more involved for students, as well as incorporating other materials aside from paper, plastic and glass, into the recycling mix.

Although there are many other factors of sustainability that are perhaps more relevant than recycling, such as renewable energy, water use, and energy use, the simple step of separating landfill-bound items and items available for reuse is a major starting point for an even more environmentally friendly campus in the future. However, the future is now, and it’s time for GCSU to meet the challenges of maintaining a sustainable campus, starting with recycling, and ending with a better planet. So students, go the extra mile and use the recycling bins throughout campus, and do whatever you can to avoid creating any sort of waste.

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