by Jaime Reyes '19
Over the summer, an initiative put in by Professor Jen Abraham-White allowed for the purchase of new recycling bins for each of the buildings on Graceland’s Lamoni campus. Historically, our campus has had recycling bins, however they are few and far apart. The newer multicolored bins enable and help to influence a greener mindset of the students here at Graceland — and thus far it shows.
This past summer, my coworker Bobbie Moore and I collected recycling once a week from the buildings here on the Lamoni campus. For a rough visual comparison, it would take us about three to four weeks to fill a standard dumpster, whereas with the start of the year, it’s filled every other week. The sheer volume of recyclable materials paralleled the return of our students — and as such, we must continue to think of and explore possible remedies for the amount of waste on campus.
One idea brought to Senate was to replace the single-use paper cups in the Swarm Inn with the purchase of reusable cups for each student on the Lamoni campus. Currently, one of the number one contributors to the trash bins are these flimsy single-use cups that students go through like there’s no tomorrow. On average, a student may use a minimum of one cup per day, often times two and three are used, however. This may not seem like a ton, but in the grand scheme, these cups add up. If one student uses one per day for the length of the school year, they will have wasted at the very least 150 cups, and when you multiply that by the number of students on campus, it turns into a real headache. While we do have recycling bins for these on campus, unfortunately most of them end up in the garbage, which, in turn, end up in landfills and in our water systems.
In addition to the above concept, one idea that we have taken is turning the mountains of cans into cash. Hy-Vee – as well as other stores around the nation – offer five cents per can recycled. With the overabundance of caffeinated soft drinks here in Lamoni, on average, we can make an additional $50 dollars per week, the only work required being sorting plastics from cans. With a strong team of sustainability workers, the mountain turns into a much less formidable hill, and the time tends to fly by.
While the sustainability workers have declared war on the recycling practices on campus, what would help to take this campus to the next level would be even more involvement. If, as a student body, we could be more cognizant of our actions and take more responsibility for where our trash ended up, we’d make this campus a better place — and we could take these learnings on with us as we continue on to the world at large. We get one chance in this life to be the best us — let us not go to waste.