GW officials and campus groups are encouraging students to recycle more of their trash beginning this week by dispelling beliefs that GW does not recycle.
Free the Planet, the Student Association and GW General Services have all been looking for ways to increase the amount of trash the University sends to recycling centers.
“The general feeling among students is that GW does not recycle,” said Amanda Fisher, president of Free The Planet. “The fact is, GW does recycle, and the only way it will recycle more trash is if students recycle more.”
In past years, Free the Planet has spent much of its time protesting GW recycling practices, circulating petitions and even sending University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Valentine’s Day cards to promote recycling.
Tony Dillard, coordinating manager of General Services, said GW began using Consolidated Waste Industries last November to increase the amount of trash it recycles. All academic buildings, the Marvin Center, Madison Hall, Francis Scott Key Hall, Ross Hall and the Support Building have “GW Recycling Centers,” with a bin for trash, paper and glass and bottles. The University plans to put them in more residence buildings, he said.
New Hall was built as a “green building,” which means it was constructed with environmentally safe building materials and has a recycling system in place, said Jed Frei, community director for the building. Each floor is equipped with a trash chute, a trash bin in case the chute breaks and three colored bins to separate paper, glass and plastic. Each room has corresponding buckets to separate trash and recyclables. The chutes have signs on them saying the chutes are now working.
Fisher said students must be more aware of how to recycle, and she plans to highlight campus efforts to separate trash.
“By Wednesday posters will be up around campus with statistics on how much paper, newspaper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans and cardboard GW recycles per month,” she said.
Dillard said GW Recycling Centers are more visible than the bins used in the past. He said that different holes on the new bins will make it easier to recycle. There are trash bins with a large opening, bins with a slit for paper and bins with a small round hole for cans and bottles.
“If it is easy for people to recycle, then they will recycle,” Fisher said. In two weeks, the SA will hang posters above all GW Recycling Centers telling students what they can and cannot recycle, she said.
Freshman Meredith Baldwin said she does not think GW students recycle enough.
“All you have to do is walk through Thurston (Hall). The trash is all mixed together, and when custodians come to collect it, they throw it all in the same bag,” she said.
Junior Ali Noor said she is doubtful the Free the Planet campaign will be successful.
“Students here show apathy towards recycling. Nobody thinks the school recycles, so nobody makes an effort to do so themselves,” she said. “The only way students will recycle more is if the University makes a statement announcing that it does recycle.”
Dillard said GW has recycled 13.5 percent of all of its trash, which equals 120 tons, so far this year. GW plans to keep increasing these numbers in the future, he said.
“Making students aware and getting them enthusiastic about separating their trash is the goal of this new program,” he said. “I do understand, however, that running a school is a business and that recycling is expensive.”
Free the Planet has cited the University’s paper buying standards as a related problem. GW buys 100 percent virgin paper and 30 percent post-consumer, or recycled, paper, Fisher said. Her organization is asking the school to consider buying only 100 percent recycled paper.
Many universities and businesses cite the high costs of recycled paper as disincentives to going totally green.
“Recently Colgate University changed its standards. Today it only buys 100 percent post-consumer paper,” Fisher said. “When more schools start buying this recycled paper, the market price of it will begin to fall, making it easier for more schools to buy it.”
Along with installing more recycling bins around campus, General Services is forming a committee to oversee recycling at GW.
Representatives from the General Services offices, including grounds, transportation, housekeeping and Residential Life staffs will team with FTP to facilitate GW recycling. Georgetown has one central recycling office, which covers all recycling on campus.
“We need to educate students that GW recycles and let them know that with their help we can recycle more,” said Fisher.