To recycle or throw away? Students don’t always know what to do

March 9, 2010 — by Serena Chan and Sarah Hull

Freshman Francheska Palmer hesitated, holding the remains of her lunch above the two bins. Recycle or trash? For a second, her hand wavered back and forth between the two before tossing her plastic pasta container into the recycling bin.

This short moment of uncertainty happened subconsciously, but it is an example of how most students are puzzled when it comes to what items are recyclable. Looking at the trash bins in the quad, about half of the garbage belongs in the recycle bin next to it and half of the recycling should be in the trash.

“I always put my water bottles an anything plastic in the recycling bin,” Palmer said. But not everyone is as environmentally conscious as Palmer is.

In fact, most students during lunch completely disregarded the recycling bins in the quad. They dumped the entirety of their waste, everything from plastic and paper to soda cans into the garbage.

“I don’t recycle,” said freshman Kevin Gasik. “Well, I recycle plastic bottles because I don’t think you can throw those away in the trash.”

Here are the basics to recycling:
• Toss anything soiled by food or grease into the trash bin; these cannot be recycled.
• All clean paper products like the cardboard lunch trays and brown paper bags are recyclable.
• Many plastics can also be recycled, including the common water bottles and Ziploc bags. All of these items can be placed into the same recyling bin as they are sorted later by West Valley Collection and Recycling who picks up the waste from the back parking lot.

The school, as part of its beautification process, installed new trash bins conveniently paired with recycling bins in an attempt to encourage students to clean up after themselves. Nevertheless, many students cannot manage to throw away their trash correctly.

“Some people don’t really care,” said senior Sharon Kikinis. “I see a lot of people put recyclable items in trash cans.”

And to make matters worse, some students just get up and walk away once the bell rings for class, leaving all their trash on the tables, said maintenance worker Andrew Hickey. It would be better to put it in the trash can than to assume the janitors will clean up after everyone, he said.

Despite the fact that students have much room for improvement the school has been much more trash-conscious for the past couple of years, according to maintenance worker John Berti.

“It’s a big improvement from years ago,” said Berti. “Trash used to be all over the place. [The students should] keep doing what they’re doing. This has probably been the best year I’ve seen.”

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