Recycling on-and off-campus proves to be challenging
After a summer abroad in Italy and a lifetime of recycling at home, junior Raasha Gutierrez, an art major, could not give up the habit when she moved into an apartment off campus.
“I feel like recycling is an essential part of living in the waste-driven and consumeristic [sic] culture we live in,” Gutierrez said. “Most of the things we throw away are actually recyclable in some way, shape or form.”
However, middle Georgia does not have the same recycling infrastructure as metro Atlanta areas, like where Gutierrez grew up.
Back in Milledgeville, Gutierrez goes out of her way to recycle by keeping a box of recyclable materials in her apartment and taking the box when she makes the two hour drive home. Her apartment complex does not have recycle bins—a common problem for students living off-campus.
“We have not implemented a system for off-campus students to bring their recycling on campus,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Lori Strawder. “It is part of our long-term strategic plan, but we aren’t there yet."
For now, off-campus students can contact the city of Milledgeville to learn where to take their recycling.”
The two biggest challenges to increasing students’ recycling while living on campus are the habits they bring with them from home—whether they are used to recycling or not—and the ease and convenience of current recycling practices.
Some students, especially those from the metro Atlanta area, are used to recycling at home, and even recycling items at like glass or plastics numbered above one and two, while others have never recycled before because their municipalities do not provide those services.
“It is a behavior change,” Strawder said. “Students should think, ‘Can I recycle this here in Milledgeville?’ before they dispose of waste because so much goes to the landfill that doesn’t have to.”
The combined receptacles in the library are designed to alleviate the extra step of finding a recycle bin when throwing things away. These were placed on campus as a recycling initiative through the GC Office of Sustainability to cultivate a habit of recycling in public places.
“I think a lot of people are just too lazy to recycle on their own, even though it is not that much extra effort,” said sophomore Brooke Johnson, a political science major. “You’re already going down to the bins to throw trash away. Why not toss recycling, too?”
Johnson became an advocate for recycling in high school after reading about environmental problems caused by improper disposal of waste and the drain on natural resources resulting from the production of a high volume of ‘throw away’ materials.
“I recycle as much as I can, and I compost food waste and napkins,” Johnson said.
As a CA in Adams, she has offered designated recycling bins to her residents for their rooms so they can begin incorporating recycling into their lifestyles.
Students who live in the dorms can request recycling bins from the Office of Sustainability or buy their own bins to use for recycling when shopping for living supplies.
Recycling on campus has an economic benefit as well. The university is charged a flat hauler fee to carry waste and recyclable materials to the proper facilities, but waste is charged another per-pound processing fee that the recyclable materials are not.
By increasing recycling practices on campus the university can be more fiscally and environmentally-conscious, setting students up to be responsible caretakers and advocates for their home planet.
For questions about recycling, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (478) 445-1797.