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Eastern and Recycling

Julia Carso | Contributing Writer

Every Eastern student, including myself, knows the golden rule of recycling, which is that we should recycle in the first place. The problem? Many of us are unaware of how to partake in the process correctly. The team that creates Eastern’s recycling graphics can help in reducing this uncertainty by labelling every trash and recycling facility on campus with clear, simple infographics that indicate how specific items should be sorted.

Most students are aware of our country’s plastic waste problem – that is, Americans produce almost five hundred pounds of the material per person every year. We learn from a young age that it is our responsibility to recycle plastic at all costs, and we easily assume that every plastic is recyclable. However, one of the biggest mistakes students make during the recycling process is one related to plastic.

Our current understanding of plastic recycling is incorrect. Only about 5% of plastic is actually used to create new items. This minunderstanidng stems from the countless varieties of plastic that can be found in everyday products on campus because each piece abides by different recycling rules. As a senior, I have seen numerous recycling bins on campus filled with Styrofoam, trash bags, and straws – all of which are plastic items that cannot be recycled, according to Eastern’s website. The average student is likely unaware of these distinctions; even if they were aware, to remember every detail for each type of plastic is nearly impossible. The reason plastic is currently not properly recycled is not because Eastern students don’t care (we do!), but because correct information is difficult to attain.

Eastern currently uses a mixed recycling process, which means that recyclable items do not have to be sorted by material. Still, students may not be aware what items can and cannot be recycled, and to accommodate this issue, each recycling bin in classrooms is labelled with an infographic that lists these products as a guide for students. However, these graphics list too much information. Most students dispose of their recycling quickly and therefore cannot process all of this information at once.

One solution that can help students become more confident in their recycling knowledge is clear, campus-wide graphic instruction. Eastern’s graphic team should increase the current infographic’s readability by listing only a few of the most commonly recycled items by students. For example, since students use coffee cups every day, these items could be prominently featured on the infographics, which will help students remember to recycle them. Additionally, this infographic should be displayed on all trash and recycling bins across campus, not just those in the classroom. While this recommendation may seem inconsequential, small actions like these often have a large impact on students. Ultimately, Eastern can become a green campus by making recycling easier.


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