I’ve noticed an upsetting habit among my fellow Hoosiers on campus.
I see students carelessly toss plastic bottles, paper and soda cans right into the trash daily.
I’ve witnessed people discard water bottles full of water without giving it a second thought.
It makes my stomach drop every time.
On the weekends, it’s even worse.
Think about how much garbage a house party accumulates. Red solo cups, empty bottles, cans, paper towels and greasy pizza boxes clutter the kitchen by morning.
It all ends up in the trash and eventually into a landfill. Each person in the United States produces approximately 4.6 pounds of trash per day, according to benefits-of-recycling.com.
Although much of the waste we generate is recyclable, we throw it away instead. We are thoughtless and unaware.
But houses aren’t the only place students generate garbage. There’s also the tailgate fields.
Though IU isn’t known for its outstanding football record, we’ve certainly never lost a party. With such a popular event, countless bottles and cans are left over by the end of it.
That is not to say nothing is being done. The Office of Sustainability and the athletics department have been working together to improve waste ?reduction on game days.
Stationary recycling bins are provided at the tailgate fields along with volunteers handing out recycling bags. Other recent changes have been implemented, and IU Director of Sustainability Bill Brown has noticed an ?improvement.
“The change has been to even start pickup before the game is over,” Brown said. “We’ve seen a ?remarkable difference.”
They have even begun to collaborate with greek houses.
“The goal is zero waste,” Brown said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress. We can keep this campus beautiful if we all work together.”
While pleasantly surprised by these new developments, I think students themselves can do better during tailgates and ?especially on a daily basis.
Glass can be recycled over and over again, but it takes about 1 million years to break down in a landfill, according to Source ?Separation Systems.
Americans throw away enough plastic annually to circle the earth four times.
Instead of regularly buying and trashing plastic water bottles, buy a reusable one instead. It saves plastic, and it’s cheaper.
Recycle old notes at the end of each semester. Get reusable bags for grocery shopping instead of plastic ones.
Small changes can make a huge difference.
Even though recycling probably isn’t No. 1 on our priority list, we still need to do our part every day, even if it’s small.
Recycling on campus is not a challenge. Most buildings and dorms provide multiple recycling bins on every floor.
The Indiana Memorial Union has designated bins for paper, aluminum, glass and plastic.
Yes, our lives are hectic and stressful, but we can make that zero-waste goal a reality.
We have the resources. We just need the drive.