Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 every year. The foundation that leads the world in celebrating Earth Day, called Earth Day Network, is focusing this year’s Earth Day on ending plastic pollution, an epidemic that is poisoning our earth’s resources.
It is important that as citizens of this planet, we act to prevent pollution. As such, the question arises: is ENC doing enough to be “green?”
Senior Oksana DiCamillo says she does not recycle on campus. “I just wasn’t raised to do it,” she said. “Yes, I like the environment. I just don’t think about it.”
Senior Caleb Lynch says he does not recycle at home, but on campus he makes sure to toss his plastic cups in recycling bins. “I have reusable cups,” he says. “Very rarely do I have plastic cups, unless they’re from Hebrews or Dunkin’.”
Both Lynch and DiCamillo say recycling is easy on campus and there is an abundance of bins around, but DiCamillo says she wishes there was a recycling bin inside of Hebrews. “I just see so many people tossing plastic away,” she says. Having posters and more bins located around campus would remind students who “don’t think about it” to recycle their plastic.
There is also a recycling bin located in the commuter lounge, or “fishbowl,” and another outside of SDO. At the beginning of each year, every room gets one recycling bin. Students typically end up using that bin as a trash can so they don’t have to buy one, but supplying recycling bins demonstrates Eastern’s commitment to this cause.
Students can use those bins to take their recyclables to the recycling bin, a dumpster located right next to the trash compactor. There is a list of recyclable materials posted across from the dumpsters on the wall of the Mann Center.
Hannah Shepherd and Kaitlyn Gagnon, the resident assistants for Munro, have their residents collect recyclable bottles that are redeemable for a nickel. The money from that is then used to fund floor events.
While Eastern does take measures to recycle by placing bins around campus, there is so much more we can be – and should be – doing. To start, students who carry reusable coffee mugs should receive a discount at Hebrews to encourage less waste.
Second, a company called TerraCycle has bins for purchase so people can package up items that aren’t typically recyclable, like candy wrappers, toothbrushes, and contact lenses. If Eastern invested in a few TerraCycle bins to place around campus, it would greatly cut down on our waste output.
Funding for an environmental club could be used to purchase these bins, and also go toward the purchase of more recycling bins and other environmental campaigns.
This is our one and only earth. Plastic never goes away, it only breaks down into microplastics, which make their way into our water. Microplastics are so small that even plankton can eat them. Chemicals from plastic also poison our endocrine systems and lead to cancer and even birth defects.
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Americans discard 30 million tons of plastic each year and only recycle eight percent of it. This is a large-scale issue, but we can start by making changes on our own campus.
Eastern should go greener by adding even more recycling bins, posting more reminders to recycle, and providing incentives for students to switch from plastic disposables to reusables.