Making a new aluminum can from an old one saves 95 percent of the total energy required to make one from scratch. In short, recycling one aluminum can saves as much energy as you use by leaving a 100W light bulb on for 8 hours.
Facts such as this are the fundamental concern of The Sustainability Committee, who is teaming up with many campus organizations in order to create a more environmentally friendly establishment.
New initiatives are being developed and a campus-wide effort will have to be made to insure success. Student awareness and collaboration is central to this movement.
One of the driving forces behind this movement is our new student government, who is not only behind it but is taking action.
“Trevor Tooke has put a lot of effort into this movement. He comes to all the recycling meetings and they’ve been announcing it as part of the new student orientation,” said Kathryn French, the former co-chair of The Sustainability Committee.
One of the new strategies, known as the plastic bag initiative, is being launched by the campus bookstore.
“We are going to encourage students to put the items they buy straight into their backpacks rather than taking a plastic bag, because plastic is made of petroleum and doesn’t ever recycle,” said Louise Bridge, the director of the campus bookstore. “We are trying to do our part.”
Common sense is the driving factor behind such courses of action. The bookstore also offers a variety of recycled products for sale including pencils, notebooks as well as some clothing items. They have as well begun to use green books which are made of recycled paper, rather than blue books.
With extremely minimal funds, The Sustainability Committee was able to secure 200 more “wall hugger” bins for the campus, as well as 18 cylindrical bins. These are noticeable around campus for their attention-grabbing blue color and their custom labels of “paper” or “aluminum”.
This is especially impressive considering UVU’s pitiful recycling history.
“In the first phase of recycling many years ago, we began doing paper and cardboard to a very limited extent,” French said. “UVU came in at the bottom of the heap for recycling, which is quite distressing considering that Utah itself is one of the lowest states in the country for recycling. The discouraging factor is that it wasn’t due to a lack of money, it was due to a lack of will.”
Another exciting addition to campus recycling is the cardboard bailer that was newly purchased. This will increase the profit of the school’s recyclable cardboard because it will allow us to package it ourselves rather than relying the companies who purchase it.
One of the frustrations for those invested in the recycling initiative is when the recyclable items get put in the trash receptacles, or when trash gets put in the recycling bins. It costs the school time and money to separate the garbage from the recyclables in such instances and shows a disregard for the efforts of those trying to make a difference.
“Ultimately if this is a successful program it can make the university money because it may become cheaper for them to recycle than to dispose of their trash in other ways,” said Bill Dinklage, professor of earth science and committee member. “Recycling is going to keep our landfills less full, save trees, save energy and reduce our carbon footprint, but I think just about as important as anything else is making us feel like we are environmentally on board.”
The steps that are currently being taken are monumental in comparison to our track record, and the committee is hoping that the campus will get excited about this campaign and really take ownership of these efforts.
“Part of it is just mindset and culture. The more we behave differently and invest in our own behavior by caring about these changes, the more we start to care about everything else.” Dinklage said. “It makes people feel like part of the solution. Promoting that feeling, making people aware and getting people to be more invested are three of our main goals.”