Sarah Bennett, biology instructor, is teaching Environmental Problem Solving with an emphasis on recycling, in order to reach out to the Mercyhurst and Erie communities to promote recycling awareness.
Although there are already several recycling programs and initiatives in place around campus, there is still more to be done to maintain sustainability at Mercyhurst.
“The majority of people on campus, students, faculty and staff, think it’s really important, but there’s still a lot of misplaced items, which is a problem. So people who are trying to recycle kind of get thwarted by the people who do it wrong,” Bennett.
The class started collecting data by searching trash and recycling bins and sorting out how many items were misplaced in each bin.
“They summarized that data in class so the remainder of the semester is going to be creating projects to increase recycling behavior,” Bennett said.
The class is currently in six groups, all covering different areas to educate the public. This includes better signs, advertisements, a survey that will take place post-project and bins to better differentiate trash and recycling items.
A passionate recycler and a member of the Environmental Problem Solving class, Corey Sayles, a sophomore Sustainability Studies major, said the environmental impact of this generation is vital to the current and future world population.
“Each individual plays a significant role in every single decision, whether it be throwing a plastic bottle in the recycling bin or trash receptacle, it all adds up and can either continue to help or harm our planet as a whole,” said Sayles. “We are the generation that needs to take responsibility, action, and set the example for future generations, not to leave them doomed in a world that can no longer sustain itself. ”
The class received an academic enrichment grant in order to conduct research, make a video and miscellaneous items needed for the projects.
Beach clean-ups via Adopt-a-Beach and the international coastal clean-up have been a big part of the unit for the past three years.
“We’ve worked with Dr. Hyland and Adopt-A-Beach for a lab and then students have the option to do other clean ups. This year, I sent about half to Adopt-A-Beach and half [went] to the international coastal clean-up,” said Bennett.
Bennett’s main goal for the class is to help students see they can make a difference through their efforts.
“I wanted to show students that they have the power to change things in the future as well,” Bennett said.