You Are the Solution to Your Pollution

Recycling tips and information for students’ clarification and education.


Illustration by Eddie Sampson

   “Go green,” “save the planet,”’ “reduce reuse recycle.” While these cutesy slogans are familiar to the average American and encourage people to take action, they have become exhausted words falling deaf on many ears. 

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the United States produced 262.4 million tons of everyday waste in the year 2015, more than half of which would end up in landfills. This is something all Americans play a role in contributing to, which means every single American can play a role in reducing their contributions as well.

    Students, generationally, hold the power to set the ecological tone for the next generation of recyclers. However, students remain dismissive due to lack of convenience, knowledge, and resources.

    Senior, and English major at CSU, Rebekah Meloy expressed that while she hopes to maintain a greener lifestyle, she may not currently be doing everything she can. Meloy thinks that the topic needs to be more commonly addressed in order to gain the attention of the masses. “Every time someone mentions it, a new thought is brought up, or a new person joins the group, and that’s just one more person adding to the world to help the world be a better place.” Meloy feels she could benefit from gaining knowledge on how to recycle and what resources are available to her as a student at CSU.

    Ava Dickson, the sustainability coordinator at CSU, and Byron Harris, the director of transportation and environmental safety at CSU, had some informative points to share with the students in hopes of shedding light on recycling options on campus. Both Dickson and Harris want the students to know that any and all recycling bins on campus are single-stream recycling. This  means that all recyclable materials can be combined in one bin.

    In recent years, Columbus switched to single-stream recycling in hopes of encouraging the convenience of recycling to its residents. Unfortunately, the bins on CSU’s campus were not updated, and many students are unaware of the switch to single-stream recycling. Dickson explained that while the bins temporarily indicate otherwise, students are currently welcome to toss any recyclable item in to any recycle bin, regardless of its label. CSU Sustainability and Plant Operations is currently working on clearing up the confusion.

    Dickson also explained that some of these outdated bins indicate a place for glass containers. However, as Columbus no longer recycles glass, neither does CSU. There are plans to update these bins.

    Dickson feels that while there are many recycling stations on campus, a disconnect remains. Dickson said, “I think once the message is perceived as ‘Hey, this is a green campus; we recycle,’, then I do believe that people will take advantage of it more.”

    Dickson and Harris theorize that the inconvenience of the task of recycling to students is one of the remaining disconnects, which can be partly attributed to the lack of in-dorm recycling options for students who live on campus. This is an issue they hope to resolve in the coming future.

    Some dorm buildings once had recycling bins, but with new outsourcing for dorm waste, recycling is not an option for students living on campus. Harris said that, “We’re trying to make that relationship where we can go and collect it, because that’s just a lot of waste that goes in the dumpster and could be recycled.”

    Harris explained that students are welcome to call Plant Operations at CSU to have them come pick up larger recyclables, such as cardboard, as well as other recyclables such as; batteries, ink cartridges, and electronics. 

    “This is not something that we have been very good stewards of, so this is something that is evolving and I know that we’ve got some upcoming partnerships to start a more robust recycling program in all of our housing areas,” said Sarah Secoy, the director of Residence Life at CSU. Students can anticipate changes in the coming future. 

    While circumstances are preventing on campus residents from easier access to recycling, off campus residents are encouraged to participate in Columbus’ recycling program. Columbus residents may request a free recycling bin from the city by contacting the Citizens Service Center at 706-653-4000. The city will pick up the items as they do for regular trash. 

   Residents can also download their app, “Columbus GA Recycles,” where they can get reminders on pick up days. Their search feature allows citizens to find out if specific items are recyclable or not. Simply type in an item such as “plastic take-out container,” and it will tell whether or not it can be recycled. Columbus’ Public Works page provides a list that informs residents on items that they accept.

Graphic by Jade Thornton

    While recycling is immensely beneficial, it is not the only solution. Not all waste is recyclable. Reducing waste is just as important. Here are some tips, tricks, and behavioral changes the average student may be able to take in their everyday lives. These tips can help to not only recognize opportunities to recycle, but also opportunities to eliminate the waste in the first place, likely saving money  at the same time.

Graphic by Jade Thornton