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SEA Change: Recycling on campus

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Opinions


It’s safe to say that we are living in the most environmentally-counscious period in all of human history. For most of our time as a manufacturing species, we were naive of the damage were could do to the planet; before the creation of a global economy and the vast amounts of energy it requires, it seemed ridiculous to image that our minor actions could possibly have such large consequences. Even as the envirnomental movement blossomed, it was easy for activists to be dismissed as alarmists or to simply be ignored. Thus, even as the warning signs of large-scale disaster mounted, the general population remained blissfully unaware of the magnitude of a rapidly-growing problem, and humanity’s progress on environmental issues was painfully slow.

Now, however, we can see the dawn of a new global consciousness, a recognition that we have a respoinsibility to our planet and to ourselves. Our ecological footprint has grown too deep to be ignored, and all but the most hardened skeptics can read the warning signs. High temperatures break records across the world. The polar ice caps shrink to levels unseen for up to one million years. Extreme weather ravages our coastlines. Species go extinct at an unprecedented pace. Gas prices climb as our supply of crude oil dwindles.

Suddenly, obliviousness has become an indulgance we can no longer afford, and our national dialogue has shifted because of it. Advertisers play up the “green” aspects of their products. Candidates cross ideological lines and battle to claim the mantle of most eco-friendly. We, as a species, begin to wake up.

But as people recognize that our many environmental problems need to be solved, they sometimes fail to realize how central to the solution each individual is. Even as old habits of consumption change, there are still possibilities for greener living that go ignored. This isn’t a failure on anyone’s part, however; almost everybody is well-intended and makes an effort to make a difference. Rather, this is an opportunity to join together, to spread information on environmentally-friendly routines, and to change behaviors collectively, with a measurable positive gain as a result. This is the purpose of SEA Change: to serve as a weekly forum for simple, eco-conscious ideas applicable to campus life at Brandeis that nonetheless will make a big difference. We don’t want just to lecture people on how to live; rather, we’ll open the door to each one of you, changing authors every week so everyone with good advice on how to live greener has a chance to share it with the Brandeis community.

Brandeis’s new Single Stream Recycling policy is a good example of this kind of minor change with major results — recycling on this campus has just become a whole lot easier. Under the new policy, the recycling facilities will take care of all the sorting of seperate materials. That means that every single recycling bin on campus can take all of the following:

Paper

Cardboard

Metal

Glass

Plastics numbered 1-7 (note the change from last year, when only 1-5 could be accepted)

Not only does single stream recycling make it easier for everyone on campus to recycle, it also saves the University money. Collection costs decrease because single-compartment recycling trucks can be loaded faster, and the greater automation of the sorting process means that the recycling process is more efficient. Recycling uses fewer resources and emits less air pollution than manufacturing new products, so take advantage of the new system and help make Brandeis a more sustainable campus!

If you’d like to contribute to SEA Change, contact Danielle Hollenbeck-Pringle at danihp3@brandeis.edu.