To recycle or not to recycle

Framingham State University is littered with conjoined recycle/trash bins, we have a giant sign encouraging students to go green, and some of the residence halls are even LEED certified. So, then why does a university who so deeply cares about the Earth only put black trash bags in the recycling bins?

According to National Geographic, only 9 percent of plastic products are recycled in America. 

I would like to think a university with solar panels would consider a statistic as disappointing as this one. Moreover, the Framingham State University 2017 Climate Action Plan gloats that the university purchased 51 receptacles that separate trash and recycling. 

Although that sounds fantastic to a state board critiquing the efforts of the school to go green, the reality is that separate compartments do nothing if they are both lined with trash bags.

As someone who is very passionate about the environment, the lack of trash management is disturbing. No matter how many empty Dunkin’s cups you throw in those “recycling bins” they will never make it to a recycling center. 

Those little plastic cups will spend the rest of their days lived in a landfill because the outside bins were not lined with a clear bag. 

Don’t get me wrong, I could be under the completely wrong impression. Maybe someone down the line busts open all those bags and hand sorts through everything to make sure that Dunkin’s cup gets recycled… but probably not.

There’re a few scenarios we can consider when deciding between a black bag and a clear bag. 

Scenario one: 450 years from now, long after you’ve enjoyed your caramel swirl iced coffee, that cup is still rotting away among all of the other discarded items people have used.

Scenario two: in a few years, that plastic cup has been melted down and turned into a picnic table. Your kids sit on it every day, they enjoy a PB and J and then head to the playground, which is coincidentally made out of the coffee cup you purchased the day after you got that first caramel swirl.

This article serves as a personal request to the Facilities department to begin properly lining the outdoor recycling bins. 

I believe the university is better than the effortless inclination to line every bag with the default setting. 

I know this can be done because I witness the lovely cleaning crews put a pretty clear bag in my residence hall recycling bins every morning. 

In the meantime, I hope my fellow students will seek out the proper recycling bins to throw away their morning coffee cup.


Samantha Collette

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