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Tired of being trashy?

Campus recycling efforts rely on volunteerism to flourish

Featured graphic by Molly Swisher

According to recent data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generated 267.8 million tons of trash in 2017, of  which 139.6 million tons ended up in  landfills. More than 38% of this waste  consisted of paper and plastic – the most common recyclable materials.  

Tyler Junior College has made past efforts  to do its part in protecting our environment,  promoting recycling on campus and  sponsoring campus programs such as Keep  TJC Beautiful. However, most sustained  efforts to maintain recycling on campus  have fallen through due to a lack of funding  and manpower.  

“TJC hasn’t pursued more recycling options as this would entail paying for  services, such as having the city pick up  our recyclables,” said Lauren Tyler, director  of student life at TJC. “Right now this is  picked up on a volunteer basis, but this  would have to be a paid service for an  outside company/city to collect.” 

In order to obtain more permanent  recycling options or pay for professional  recycling services, TJC would need to  develop a larger volunteer base to purchase more bins and/or pay for collection services. 

“Recent efforts include discussions within the Keep TJC Beautiful committee as well as the recycle pick up days that occur twice a month,” Tyler said.  “Recycling bins were purchased last year,  and we hope to continue to increase bins as  we identify spaces and responsible parties  to monitor them.” 

TJC has the means – it just needs the manpower. Without much promotion or volunteerism, it’s no surprise most recycling efforts haven’t gained widespread traction in recent years. The current recycling days on campus have given students and faculty an opportunity to change that.  

There are also several recycling bins available to students and staff around campus. Though they are far outnumbered by regular trash cans, these bins provide one of the only options for recycling without having to pile up recyclables at home and bring them to collection days. These bins are also maintained by various departments and brought to collection days on a volunteer basis. This gives campus organizations another opportunity to sponsor a recycling location and cycle through volunteers to empty and collect materials.  

Without money to purchase recycling bins, even small organizations can band together to collect materials. Plastic and cardboard bins from home can be decorated and used as sponsored recycling locations on campus. Not only does this promote student involvement, but it allows campus recycling the accessibility it has previously lacked.
The Student Senate’s upcoming recycling collection days will be held in parking lot F3 on Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Nov. 5, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3. Participants can bring paper,
cardboard and No. 1 and 2 plastics for recycling.

By encouraging both individuals and organizations on campus to attend, we can prove TJC cares enough about recycling to make it a mainstay with
volunteerism at the helm. Without a dedicated volunteer base, minimal funding and inevitable turnover will hamper any efforts to develop a permanent recycling campaign on campus.
We cannot obtain more funds or more bins without more hands. It is up to our faculty, staff and student body to step up to protect our campus, our city and our environment.
We need to make a collective effort and take a stand for what we stand on.

Graphic by Chris Crymes
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