Students need to trash their littering habits

February 5, 2011 — by Michael Lee

The lunch bell rings. As students rush to their afternoon classes, maintenance worker Andrew Hickey surveys the quad. Then, with a “trash grabber” and a bucket, Hickey starts his litter-retrieval excursion across the quad. Later, he returns to his golf cart, with a couple of large garbage bags to show for his efforts.

“If you were in the public, you’d be fined $350 for public littering,” Hickey said. “Here, [the students] get away with it. They just think we, [the maintenance worker], are here to clean up after them.”

Campus supervisor Mark Hernandez insists that litter can be reduced if students become more responsible.

“Most of the trash is just students not picking up after themselves,” Hernandez said. “Most of the students are pretty good about it, but not all of them.”

Each day, Hernandez and Hickey split up the quad. According to both of them, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to pick up most of the litter. This is improper, as litter amounts to several of the 15 to 20 bags of trash produced by the quad each day.

The excess amount of litter on campus can only be attributed to laziness and a lack of concern. Students who are in a rush sometimes leave their trash behind. Such an excuse is unacceptable, however, as there are many garbage cans around the school. Students can easily dispose of their spare trash on the way to their classes.

Adding to the problem, many students do not dispose of their recyclable products properly. Glass, paper and plastic products often end up inside the trash cans when they can be reused in a recycling plant. These products include lunch trays, plastic utensils, beverage containers and plastic food containers.

Also, if someone does not pick the litter up, something will. Animals, such as birds and squirrels, often scavenge the remains of burgers and pizza, posing a significant health concern for the animals.

If an animal does not find it, the litter starts to decompose. Standard trash contains many man-made products and is no longer considered “natural,” making it harmful to the environment. Most plastics are not biodegradable, and the chemicals in cups, wrappers and trays are harmful for the environment.

So, the next time the lunch bell rings and you’re tempted to leave an empty bottle, a half-eaten sandwich or a paper tray full of garbage, remember Hickey and Hernandez. Remember the environment. And, most of all, remember it is only a 20-second walk to the nearest trash or recycling bin.

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