As many of you may have noticed, there are recycling bins all over campus, from the Science Complex to the dorms, although sometimes they hold more trash than recyclables. However, what most of you may or may not know is that, with the exception of those in the Science Complex, recycle bins on campus are only for show.
Currently, “Those recycle bins which exist (such as those in Meier Hall trash rooms) aren’t being recycled,” said David Forner (sophomore, political science, English, pre-law), an AU Senator who has been involved with recycling initiatives for two years. Forner cited conversations with administrative staff across the university as the source of this information.
This means that those iconic blue bins, which promise to help reduce Andrews University’s environmental footprint, actually exist only to help you feel better about yourself and your efforts to save the Earth. At the end of the week, the contents of these bins will be thrown in the dumpster along with all the other garbage, and taken to a landfill where it will be buried. They are not recycled, and this is because Andrews ultimately has chosen not to pay for recycling.
In response, AUSA Senate is looking to make a change.
Autumn Goodman (freshman, photography), an AU Senator, said, “As of now, Andrews University is in the process of developing a recycling program for students. Senate is currently in the process of working with administration to develop a way for the items that students set aside to be recycled.”
This program would do what students previously believed was happening: recycle. Andrews University would pay for the famous blue bins (AUSA would assist with costs for recycle bins in residence halls), and their thousands of bottles, papers, plastics, and other recyclables could be taken to recycling centers rather than dumpsters. However, this possibility for change and reform rests on a decision by administration. Without official consent and the proper allocation of funding, the recyclables will continue to be thrown away.
So, since some of you may be asking yourself what you can do about this situation, here are two suggestions:
First, as previously mentioned, the recycle bins in the Science Complex are emptied by Biophilia, a student organization associated with the Department of Biology. So if possible, rather than throwing away your recyclables in the trash, check as to whether you or a friend are headed in that direction, and dump your plastics and papers there.
Second, contact those who are able to make these changes. Both President Andrea Luxton (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Frances Faehner (email@example.com) the Vice President for Campus and Student Life, are open to hearing the students’ opinions and concerns. Let your voice be heard.
Overall, this lack of concern for the environment is quite surprising. As a Seventh-day Adventist Institution, one would hope that Andrews University places an emphasis on the biblical mandates of stewardship for God’s green planet. One also wonders why this institution takes the time to maintain false appearances of recycling, rather than actually carrying through. Regardless of the reasoning or the motivations, Andrews University continues to throw away its recyclables and it appears as though, at least for now, its mission statement: “Change the World,” excludes caring for and tending to the Earth.