A better yOU: Recycling programs

By Kaitlin Rose

What do you do when you eat all your Bear Cave pizza and you’re left with a pizza box and a bunch of crumpled napkins? Where do you put the waste when you’re done? It better be the recycling bin. Recycling is really just common sense. You reduce waste that goes to the landfill by recycling, which reduces water pollution, carbon emissions, energy, space, and money.  Here, at Oakland University, our recycling program is not the best. If you sit in Pioneer Food Court for an hour and watch what people throw away, the majority of it is recyclable materials.  We are a big school and we create a lot of waste. Why is it that we don’t make the extra effort to put our materials in the correct bins around campus? The reason is because our school does not make recycling a priority. There are recycling programs at other universities that put ours to shame.  Let us take a look at which ones.

Pepperdine University in Malibu, California is ranked as the university with the number one recycling program. Out of the total waste produced on their campus, 78% is recycled. Computers, printers, cell phones, and batteries are recycled on campus or are donated to an IT center. Food waste and green waste (such as grass and tree clippings) are composted to create fertilizer. Pepperdine is clearly reducing their carbon footprint by making it a priority on campus.  There are more schools like Pepperdine that are dedicated to reducing waste.

American University in Washington DC strives to reduce waste through an extensive recycling program.  Their motto is “throw away doesn’t mean go away so we’re on our way to zero waste”.  They recycle everything from basic paper and plastic products to electronics and clothing. They have specific bins placed all throughout campus and educate students on what precisely goes in each bin. They also compost paper towels from restrooms, and kitchen waste. Next time you go to the bathroom at OU, take notice of all the paper towels in the trashcan. That could all be recycled or composted, yet it is all sent to the landfill.

Other notable schools with excellent recycling programs include Valencia College, College of the Atlantic, Kalamazoo College, Chatham University, and Harvard University as well as many others. Oakland University has one of the fastest growing campus populations in Michigan within the past 10 years.  More people equals more waste. Don’t you think that we should start to make recycling a priority too? With students taking recycling more seriously, and administration providing more information and resources to recycle, we could potentially aim for zero waste (or at least get close). Just think of all the waste we could reduce if we tried.

What can I recycle?

  • Metals (aluminum foil, cans, etc.)
  • Paper/cardboard
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Electronics

What can’t I recycle?

  • Ribbons and bows
  • Food waste
  • Styrofoam
  • Ceramics
  • Mirrors

Upcoming environmental, health, and wellness events:

  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection Weekly Clean with the Clinton River Watershed Council, October 7th, 10am-12pm, Riverbends Park
  • Aspiring Surgeons General Meeting, October 7th, 2-3pm, Gold Room B
  • Student Congress Talkin’ Trash Campus Clean-up, October 8th, 11am-1pm, meet in Fireside Lounge
  • Psi Chi – Psychology Student Association Suicide and Awareness Prevention Workshop, October 8th, 12-1pm, Lake Huron Room
  • PATCH A Health Care Collaboration, October 13th, 11am-1pm, Banquet Rooms
  • Organization of Diversity and Health General Meeting, October 13th, 12-1:30pm, Fireside Lounge