By Ashley Hathaway, Contributing Writer
As a student of McKendree, I have always cherished the faculty and staff that encourage students to be involved highly in academics, sports, and the variety of clubs on campus. While students are constantly encouraged to be involved and often see promotion of different athletic events and club meetings across campus, I cannot recall an instance where I have been encouraged to recycle or compost while on campus. While there happens to be an occasional recycling bin throughout the classrooms and a single compost bin near the garden behind the student success center, recycling and composting seems to be lacking around McKendree. Even when recycling bins are present, it seems as if our community is lackadaisical in their efforts to recycle their waste. As someone who takes pride in living green and doing what I can to serve the Earth, this has always struck me as something that we as a community can work harder towards. With the knowledge that I have peers who are like minded, I decided to reach out to two students at McKendree who have been behind the scenes in the recycling and composting implementation on campus.
James Stanley, a 2018 graduate who aspires to be a future sustainability professional, is someone that I have always viewed as an avid recycler. When someone walked into James’s apartment, it was apparent that he took the responsibility of recycling seriously. He had a line of empty cardboard boxes that he would fill with recyclable items in order to keep them separate from the waste in his garbage, creating both organization and ease in his recycling efforts. James holds the enthusiasm and motivation towards recycling that I aspire to have, so it should not be a surprise that he also held the title of Green Team President during the 2017-2018 school year. Due to James’s dedication to recycling and sustainability, I was curious as to how easy it was for him to recycle during his time at McKendree.
When asked how easy or difficult it was for James to recycle, he had differing views depending on where on campus the recycling was occurring. At McKendree West, he said that recycling is “very effective and easy,” but when looking at opportunities at the traditional dorms and while on campus, recycling becomes difficult. “Students are required to take all of their recycling to the first floors,” James explained, which can cause operational challenges and lack of motivation. Composting is even more difficult, with only a small composting bin located near the garden which is supposed to be used just for garden waste. This makes it impossible for students to compost their food waste while eating in Ames or 1828. In addition to certain areas having operational issues, the students at McKendree also do not seem incredibly motivated, according to James. “I think that students need to become more involved in the entire movement,” James said. Without the motivation from the students, it is hard to begin to make a noticeable change in how the campus approaches recycling and composting.
The idea of student involvement with recycling and composting continued in the conversation that I had with Jordan Jackovich, the current Green Team President. As Jordan put it, “the more people that step up and make it known that this is what is wanted, the more likely it is to happen.” If students want recycling and composting to become a priority on campus, we must begin to voice our concerns. “There are no recycling bins in classrooms, dorms, or any that are centrally located on campus,” Jordan voiced. This directly affects the ability for students to recycle while on campus, but it is not a heard issue throughout the community. The unavailability of consistent recycling bins to use can quickly turn into both the lack of motivation and lack of habit for the community.
In both James’s and Jordan’s eyes, the lack of motivation not only includes students, but also the faculty and staff at McKendree. To adequately promote recycling as well as begin composting on campus, funding is needed to support the Green Team. Unfortunately, Jordan does not believe that the Green Team is given enough funding to support recycling and composting implementations or other implementations regarding sustainability on campus. While in a similar position, James also faced lackluster and sometimes resistant attitudes from the faculty that he brought ideas to. Without the funding and support from the faculty, it is nearly impossible to start a trend towards recycling and composting at McKendree.
While this all seems rather pessimistic, there have been slight improvements and attitude changes over the past couple of years that might begin to make recycling and composting at McKendree a priority. “By the end of my years there, there was more help,” James said. Likewise, Jordan believes that we have passionate students who take recycling and composting seriously, as well as the resources to bring more recycling and composting opportunities to campus. The opportunities will not arise overnight, but as more people join the movement it will ultimately become a priority for there to be recycling and composting bins implemented throughout campus. While recycling and composting are not part of the image that McKendree is known for currently, I have hope that with growing cooperation and guidance that recycling and composting will soon become second nature on McKendree’s campus.