Want to recycle at Samford? Sorry, you’re on your own

ISAAC JOHNSON, Guest Contributor

I was walking on campus recently when I ran into a horrific sight— a trash can overflowing with aluminum cans, all of which could have been recycled.

Stop. Don’t roll your eyes and close the newspaper. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh boy, another grumpy student is chewing me out about being environmentally irresponsible.” But I’m not.Trash copy

I don’t blame Samford students for the overflowing trash. I blame the university for putting in such a pathetic lack of effort toward recycling.

When I first arrived at Samford, I was alarmed at the scarcity of recycling bins on campus. In the four years since, it’s only gotten worse.

At the beginning of this year, the large recycling bins in the bottom of the University Center and the smaller recycling bins lining the main campus walkway alongside the law fountain and Ben Brown Plaza mysteriously disappeared, leaving only the bins outside the University Center entrance.

This contributed to a larger problem: there are precious few recycling bins in high-traffic areas. Most of our bins are in nonsensical and ignored locations such as the area behind the library that has been largely made inaccessible due to construction.

Meanwhile, students walking in between classes or exercising at the gym chuck their water bottles into the garbage.

I guess I could be upset at students for not going the extra mile to recycle their bottles and cans. But Samford has made recycling horribly inconvenient. It forces students and faculty to go well out of their way to be responsible.

The current recycling setup, with huge bins in the furthest reaches of Beeson Woods, behind the University Center, and in West Village, seems to be designed for people who save items in bulk and then take them to the recycling bins along with their dorm trash.

But it’s unrealistic to expect students to take up space in their tiny dorm rooms with accrued recycling. Instead, Samford should play to people’s trash-chucking instincts.

Every other school that I have visited has at least one recycling bin next to each trashcan, lining all outdoor walkways and in all classrooms.

Students at these schools don’t consciously think, “If I want to be responsible, I ought to recycle this bottle.” They just see a sign that says “BOTTLES,” instinctively throw their bottles in the corresponding bin, and boom, they become recyclers.

But Samford doesn’t care enough to set up such a simple solution. This is a shame.

Recycling is not some liberal political ideology, it’s common sense. Why would a school systematically discourage students from saving reusable items?

What little recycling we do goes unregulated; I’ve watched our maintenance workers scoop up recycling bins and dump their contents in with the rest of the trash.

The university seems to think that if you want to recycle, you’re on your own.

I hope someday Samford realizes the consequences of its apathy about recycling and makes it easier to be responsible.

Isaac Johnson is a senior philosophy and religion major. Email him at kjohnso9@samford.edu.

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