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Feeling Blue: Simpson’s Recycling Troubles

Guest Editorial by Jacelyn Wedman

Image Credit: Google

The blue bins on campus aren’t just for looks.

Nearly every office, hallway and classroom is furnished with a blue recycling bin. Every residence hall floor has a large cylindrical bin, while offices usually have smaller bins. Recycling bins provided by the city of Redding stand behind the caf and the library, and are taken out by the city on a regular basis.

But despite this, recycling programs have struggled to take root at Simpson.

Paul Davis, director of campus operations, mentioned that Simpson has been participating in recycling programs for seven years.

“Historically a campus club like the Business Club or GateHouse will collect all the recyclables and cash them in as a fundraiser,” Davis said. “To be honest with you I don't know much about the program because it's always been student-driven.”

The blue recycling bins are meant only for specific items, namely plastic bottles and aluminum cans. According to the city of Redding, no plastic film, styrofoam, or anything with food residue can be placed in the bins for recycling.

Garrett Struwe, facilities coordinator at Simpson University, has struggled with student apathy toward the recycling guidelines.

“In order for the system to work effectively, everyone bears some responsibility for placing the proper items in trash and the proper items in recycling,” Struwe said. He added that many students place their styrofoam to go boxes in the recycling.

“A large piece of lasagna fell out of one as I was pulling it out,” Struwe said.

But the lack of student interest in recycling isn’t the only problem. According to Struwe, student employees may not be recycling properly.

“The system also breaks down here if my employees are not well informed on recycling or simply don't care enough to make an effort to recycle,” Struwe said.

A facilities crew empties trash and recycling every Friday afternoon around campus. This crew has been directed to mark recycling bags so they are disposed of separately, but as Struwe said, “it's practically impossible to enforce unless I'm working with them.”

Recently, facilities has placed large city of Redding recycling cans in the main lobbies (second floor) of all residence halls. These bins are accompanied by a chart outlining items that can and cannot be recycled. The bins are taken to the residential lots to be recycled by the city of Redding on a regular basis.

Struwe is a one-man facilities army, and therefore has other, more pressing projects.

“Although I do see the value in having an effective recycling program,” Struwe said, “there have often been other projects that I felt were worth prioritizing more.”

Much of the recycling responsibility rests on the students, staff and faculty.

“I've learned you can have a really good system on paper, but if people don't care the system breaks down,” Struwe said. Presenting recycling to the student body in an engaging, meaningful way is, according to Struwe, vital in encouraging participation.

Davis mentioned that the facilities staff is fully supportive of student-led programs.

“We are more than happy to provide more containers to make the programs grow and be more successful,” Davis said.

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