Inspired by last week’s piece on plastic utensils and bags on campus and my recent trip back home, I also wanted to share an idea on how to make the Brandeis campus more green. The Brandeis community obviously cares about climate change. However, the focus seems to be on larger projects, such as divestment from fossil fuels, but with that, the smaller things that could be done seem to be overlooked.
Almost all beverages sold on campus are sold in plastic bottles: water, sodas, coffee, etc. The entire back wall of the C-Store is full of them! Yes, there are recycle bins on campus; however, there are not many of them, particularly outside. As a result, a lot of them end up in the trash because students do not want to carry empty bottles around with them.
Furthermore, right now, the only incentive for students to recycle the plastic bottles they have is their own desire to make the planet greener. As much as I want to say that everyone on campus does the environmentally conscious thing and recycles the plastic bottles they have, that is just wishful thinking on my part.
And also, little known fact, if one piece of garbage ends up in a recycling bag that should not be there, the entire bag goes directly to waste.
To encourage all members of the community to recycle their plastic bottles, there needs to be more of an incentive for them to do so. The idea of how to do that comes from what is done is most large European supermarkets. They introduced an additional fee on every plastic (and glass) bottle that is purchased.
Customers can then get the fee back if they recycle the bottles in a machine placed near the entrances in supermarkets. The fee is given back in the form of a coupon to that supermarket.
This is something that could be done at Brandeis: Not only would this assure that much more plastic bottles are recycled, it would encourage people to go back to the C-Store to purchase more things there. The machines could also be placed in other areas on campus, so people do not have to collect them and carry them to the C-Store.
Although this does require students to put in the extra effort of carrying those bottles around and disposing of them in the right place, the even insignificant monetary incentive would be an effective way of getting people to recycle. Taking into account the environmental benefits this would bring, the money spent on buying them would not be a huge burden to the university.
Brandeis already has an incentive policy that is not known to most students but ordering beverages from anywhere on campus is cheaper if you use a reusable mug. Yes, you pay less for the same amount of coffee! So you could buy two cups for the price of one!
Another thing that I always found ironic is the amount of flyers and posters there are around campus. I was in the mail room the other day checking my mailbox, and there I found a flyer advertising an event on campus.
Since this was not something of interest to me (and even if it was, I’d lose the paper in ten minutes anyway) I went to recycle it. What I saw in the recycle bin would’ve been funny, if it weren’t so sad. The recycling bin was full of those flyers: Talk about wasting paper!
I wish I could say that this was the only time this had happened. Whenever flyers are put near the doors in the residence halls, most of them still end up in (hopefully) the recycle bin. Why are all these clubs still printing flyers? Is sending an email to all students, or posting on social media, not an option anymore? Sure, maybe the physical flyers will attract more attention since people have to remove them from their mailboxes or from under their doors, but are those extra people really worth the amount of paper that is wasted?
A similar thing goes for all the posters that are hung up around campus; those things are everywhere. And after they’ve been there for a few months, they just get thrown out. Most of the information that is on those posters could be emailed out to students. Sure, more people will probably look at the posters than open the email, but, once again, are those extra people really worth the amount of paper that is wasted?
The Brandeis community is one that is very concerned about the environment; however, while the focus is on the larger issues, the smaller ones get ignored. This is especially frustrating because the steps to change this really are not that complicated. It’s time for Brandeis to become more green!