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Effective on-campus recycling program long overdue

Oct. 19, 2000

My days at Baylor are numbered since I graduate in May, yet I still have the dream that Baylor administrators will create a comprehensive recycling program before I leave. The existing program consists of blue bins with prominent stickers reading 'Baylor Recycles.' Some bins accept paper and others, aluminum cans. Sadly, these bins are neither used much by students nor does housekeeping properly sort them for recycling. Most of the containers are simply blue trash cans.

It seems logical enough that an institution that has been in central Texas for over a century would be concerned about decades of waste. If the Baylor administration is not alarmed that a recycling plan has not been developed yet, let me tell you that I am. I have some ideas about what to do with the garbage around here. One easy solution is to continue burying it in the city's sanitary landfill. Another more drastic method is to take all of the garbage and compact it into the Ferrell Special Events Center until the magnitude of the waste problem is understood. A third idea is to burn our trash in an incineration facility.

In actuality, none of these 'solutions' are worth much and a working resolution to this must be developed.

As an alternative to incineration, how about combusting it with all of the hot air

from the administration? William McNair, environmental health and safety manager for the university, was quoted in an Aug. 30 Lariat article as saying that 'the whole container goes into the trash' if the materials in the bin are contaminated with anything other than paper.

His statements betray a lack of knowledge about those blue bins: Since when has housekeeping staff sorted through an entire bag of paper to find a small pizza crust innocuously dropped in the mix? Isn't it more honest to say that nobody really cares what is in the recycling bins, that the true home for those papers and cans is the city's landfill?

This shameful situation is proof that priorities need revision. One professor told me that he has worked to get recycling going on campus for over 15 years. The co-president of the Environmental Concern Organization, Chrissie Angeletti, says that ECO presidents have planned and struggled to get recycling going for years and have come against a barrier of indifference from administrators whose job it should be to deal with emerging recycling policy.

Maybe if all students who cared about this issue created a presentation for our administrators, then they would get the message. Business majors could show that recycling helps save money in the budget. Real estate majors could demonstrate the lack of available land in the Waco area once the current landfill reaches capacity in about 30 years. Political science majors could crunch the numbers to show that a greater percentage of the American public recycles than votes. Environmental studies majors could illustrate how recycling reduces pollution and the impact on limited natural resources. The student government could dust off last year's poll results in which Chapel attendees listed 'improved recycling facilities' as one of the top 10 concerns.

Even though Baylor is steeped in tradition, it is time for a change. Recycling makes sense from a monetary standpoint, from an ethical standpoint, and an environmental standpoint. What administrators demonstrate in their injurious failure to create a recycling program is hypocrisy. Rest assured that I, for one, understand that the only recycling going on is of the placating rhetoric.

(Evan Wilder is a senior environmental studies and sociology major from Harlingen.)