Sustainability improves as campus recycling resumes

Elizabeth Nestor, Contributing Writer

As students move in and begin new classes, boxes and packaging flood trash rooms. New beginnings are wonderful, but more trash? Not as great.

Mercyhurst has taken a step toward lessening our environmental impact by re-incorporating a recycling program. The program was temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk associated with students sorting through others’ trash.

However, recycling can play an integral role to solving the climate crisis. For most, there needs to be some instruction on how to properly recycle, but once you have the basics it is not difficult at all.

Before you throw out that food container from the Grotto Commons, make sure that it has the recycling triangle. Even with the triangle present, it still may not be ready to be recycled. A crucial part to whether a good is recyclable is ensuring that it is clean.

No food waste should ever enter a recycling bin. If this is the case, some recycling posts will deem the entire bag trash and toss it. This is a prime example of “one bad apple ruins the bunch.” Luckily, Mercyhurst has a back up plan built in to make up for those who inadvertently contaminate recycling product.

This plan is a program which entails emptying recycling bins and sorting through to find recyclable goods to eliminate unnecessary waste. This program is headed by Colin Hurley, the executive director of Community Engagement and the Sustainability manager.

As of right now, there are four student workers, junior Environmental Science and Political Science major Isabelle Brewer, freshman Anthropology major Catherine Segada, freshman Intelligence and Spanish major Allison Siegmann, and Elizabeth Nestor, who deal with the contents of the recycling bins.

While it is great that this program exists, the entirety of Mercyhurst recycling cannot rest on the backs of five people. This is where students and staff play an essential role.

Make sure the contents that are being thrown into recycling bins are clean; rotting food and sticky liquids are not fun to sort through. When you dispose of trash, remember that others must sort it, and deposit the right items accordingly.

On a lighter note, it is remarkable to see the effort being put forth by staff and students.

Mounds of plastic, paper and cardboard were saved from landfills thanks to campus efforts. It is imperative that the Mercyhurst community continues on this path of sustainability and rises to the challenges presented by pollution and excessive waste.

This pandemic has both helped and hindered our environmental efforts by reducing travel and pollution but increasing our need for single-use products. Through proper recycling etiquette, the Mercyhurst community can keep one step ahead in the fight for environmental justice.

Environmentalism is not about losing freedoms or enjoyment; rather, it is about being responsible and intentional. For those who need an additional incentive, Lincoln Recycling, a recycling facility located on Selinger Ave in Erie, takes old aluminum cans for cash.

Why not get paid while reducing landfill waste?