Students send valentines to SJT

Free The Planet! GW, a campus environmental group, delivered Valentines to GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg last week with slogans such as “Roses are red, violets are blue, Georgetown recycles why doesn’t GW?” to encourage the president to reevaluate GW’s recycling system.

The group made about 20 paper Valentines and delivered them in an envelope to Trachtenberg’s Rice Hall office Monday before Valentine’s Day.

“We are hoping President Trachtenberg takes our valentines to heart,” said senior Jessica Frohman, president of Free the Planet! GW. “We want him to look into what exactly is going on with the recycling program at GW, and make the University a more environmentally conscience community.”

Frohman said she felt the Valentines were “very tasteful,” but is unsure of what type of reaction to expect from Trachtenberg.

Trachtenberg could not be reached for comment.

Students said GW needs a campus-wide recycling program and an office that manages standards for all buildings similar to Georgetown University’s system.

“Georgetown has an office solely devoted to recycling on campus. However, this University refuses to do so,” Frohman said.

Under GW’s recycling system, each building or sector of a building manages a separate recycling program. The Marvin Center adheres to one type of recycling program under the Marvin Center Governing Board, J Street follows a different system under Aramark and the Dining Services Commission, and the Community Living and Learning Center manages recycling in residence halls.

Frohman said Georgetown has one central recycling office, which covers all waste management on campus.

J Street is looking for ways to improve its current recycling program, said Dining Services Commission Chair sophomore Jared Degnan.

“J Street is equipped with recycling containers for cans, glass and plastic,” he said. “I have been working with Free the Planet! to bring in things like the Starbucks mugs.”

Students can now buy reusable mugs at the Starbucks in J Street instead of the disposable paper cups. Degnan said the coffee station does not always have mugs because they are in high demand.

Free The Planet! GW began its campaign to raise awareness about the University’s recycling last semester. During Midnight Madness in October, the group held signs and circulated petitions to students, families and faculty members at the Smith Center to advocate better recycling efforts on campus.

In November, Facilities Management officials said they were considering enlisting Consolidated Waste Industries, a waste management company in D.C., to recycle at least 20 percent of its waste – an improvement almost three times over current averages, according to a November 13 Hatchet article. University officials could not be reached to comment on any changes made since then.

During a three-month period last year, the University recycled an average of seven percent of its waste, while neighboring American University recycled 50 percent of its waste during the same period, The Hatchet reported.

University officials said designated recycling bins contaminated with trash hamper recycling efforts.

The University does not receive payment from the company when contaminated materials reach the recycling plant, Frohman said.

“GW might be losing money on the recycling because they’re not doing it properly,” she said.

In addition to demanding better waste management this semester, Free The Planet! GW said it plans to work on a campaign to encourage the University to buy recycled materials, including notebooks and ink cartridges,.

“You have to buy recycled products or else it doesn’t make a difference,” Frohman said.

Frohman founded the GW chapter of Free the Planet! last year and said it remains the only campus activist group focused solely on environmental issues.

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