Addressing that We No Longer have Recycling

Lorelei Yarbrough, Staff Writer

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Trash cans are piling up and overflowing, and with the little help of the student body, our janitors can only do so much. With over 100 trash cans on campus, you wouldn’t think students would have a problem throwing away their trash. But there is a common case of students throwing trash on the ground, kicking it, or just flat out ignoring the trash when they walk by; this shows that we as students take no pride in our campus or the environment. Of course, we as students can and should pick up the campus and doing so help keep it looking clean while also hopefully reducing waste, but Recycling Revolution states that 23.9% of the waste is actually produced by food, something to think about the next time we throw away a tray of food.

A school on average produces 483,520 pounds of trash per a day, according to the Minnesota Population Control Agency, which includes food waste, broken pencils, empty pens, and 23.5% of recyclable paper like cardboard, white office paper, and mixed paper.  This contributes to the one-third of an average dump being made up of packing material and contributes to the 230 million tons of “trash” produced by the US every year. Conserve Your Energy says that most Americans use over two trillion trees a year. That is at least 7 trees per person annually, consisting of wood, paper and other types of products that use trees.

It costs $30 to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill and $65 to $75 to incinerate it (also said by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency). On average it costs less to recycle trash, so in theory, it would make sense of schools to recycle… it would take care of the food waste and packing materials.

After talking to Mrs. Jones, I found out recycling was originally set up by Mrs. Keehn and her STEM class when they completed the “Lexus Eco Challenge.” They won the recycling aspect (the water fountains also came through the award to reduce plastic water bottles). They were given a grant to put the recycling bins on campus as part of their projects.  Through Central Disposal, we could have recycling bins picked up and emptied every week as the community was also able to bring their personal recycled items. But soon, we had to start paying for the recycling to be picked up once a week out of the Bethel STEM account; as you can imagine, this was very expensive. They also began receiving calls about the trash going everywhere on windy days because they would overflow from everyone bringing in so much. The BA STEM class had to go out and pick up all the loose trash at least once a week; on top of that, many started putting recycled items in the wrong bin. At this point, the recycling had caused more trouble and problems than solutions.

With all the cons, they decided it was time to stop recycling until they found another company. Mrs. Jones says she is a “fan of recycling; it is very responsible” and “wishes that we could find a better way to do it, a better way we could get involved, due to better community and school involvement. I just wish we could find a more efficient way to do it.” For the time being, we as students and people of the community should come together to try and keep the campus clean, take care of the environment, and take pride in our school.