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Newspaper, cardboard, magazines and office paper. We can’t live without it on a college campus, but what’s it all doing in the trash?
CU recycled almost 900 tons of paper during the last academic year, but plenty of paper still finds its way into the trash, according to Daniel Baril, the CU Recycling Program manager.
“It makes me so mad to see paper in the trash cans,” said senior biological sciences and Spanish major Roddy Beall. “I walked by a trash can today in the library that had all this paper in it, so I started picking it out of the trash. I felt like a hobo.”
Baril estimates that CU has a waste diversion rate of about 30 percent, far below the 60 to 65 percent of recyclable waste on the average college campus.
“I think it’s really an issue of overcoming laziness,” Baril said.
Katie Straney, a junior English major, admits that she doesn’t always recycle.
“I get lazy and find myself just tossing it in the trash. I feel guilty about it,” Straney said.
The Environmental Center runs CU Recycling and offers office presentations and other outreach events on campus like the Global Jam, a zero-waste event held at the beginning of the school year for the incoming freshmen, Baril said.
The center also targets specific buildings on campus when they find out about a problem.
“We’ll find whole files, full of paper from a filing cabinet, all of it recyclable, in the trash,” Baril said. “We also see a lot of computers and electronics. That’s when we step in and offer some education.”
Baril said an environmental design student recently came into the center concerned about the amount of waste being generated in the environmental design building from student projects. Wood and other materials in the projects are all recyclable but were being thrown in the trash. Baril encourages students to contact the Environmental Center in cases like these so that the center can help educate the appropriate parties.
The Environmental Center also encourages professors to get involved in the education process, Baril said. Students and professors alike are encouraged to print double-sided and use electronic documents and 100 percent post-consumer products whenever possible.
“Professors are the leaders and teachers of the students; they set them up for the real world,” Baril said. “It would be great to see them setting an example. Even subtle reminders each day to their students could really make a difference.”
“I have a business professor who is great about paper, everything you need is online,” said Alex Arensberg, a senior environmental studies major. “I guess I’m not sure whether he does it for environmental reasons or not.”
“We try to foster a sense of environmental responsibility for when students leave campus,” Baril said. “Not everywhere in the world is as environmentally friendly as Boulder.”