Recycling programs differ between East, West coast schools

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – At Universities across the United States varying levels of initiative exist to protect the state of the environment.

While college age students tend to care more about the environment than other demographics, there is a difference in attitude from West coast schools versus those on the East coast.

Most colleges use a three-bin system: One for waste, one for paper and one for aluminum. But, more progressive programs such as composting, is still limited to rural schools, West Coast universities and select colleges across the country.

At San Francisco State University, University of California-Berkeley and UC Davis, students are able to compost their raw materials such as food scraps and other organic materials using either worm bins located on campus or a private collection service.

Sunset Scavengers, a private recycling company in San Francisco, Calif. began a revolutionary food and scrap compost collection about six years ago. Since then, San Francisco has been named the nation’s organic recycling leader by the American Planning Association.

“San Francisco is the first large city in the country to initiate city-wide collection of food scraps for composting,” said Robert Reed of NorCal Waste Systems.

“Recycling is easy and there is no reason not to do it. I mean, why not, if you are going to throw it away, why not use it again?” said 20-year-old San Francisco native, Patrick Etchebehere.

Three-thousand miles away in Washington, D.C., students are not as optimistic about the benefits of separating their recyclable materials.

“It’s all put into the trash, it doesn’t even matter if you recycle or not, ” said George Washington University sophomore Adam Frankel.

According to Douglas Spengel, manager of the Energy and Environmental Department at GWU, he said that GWU disposes of an average of 3,461 tons of trash each year. Of that about 923 tons are recyclables, or about 27 percent of the waste materials.

“I think that what we get out of recycling is we get to have a better world and not deplete our resources,” said the director of Facilities Management at GWU, Tony Dillard.

Still, GWU students remain frustrated with such a basic environmental policy.

“People are really ignorant when it comes to recycling here,” said Senior Lauren Kranich, the founder of the Students for Recycling in Residence Halls at GWU.

Rural universities on the East coast, such as Cornell University and the University of Buffalo, practice more progressive recycling systems compared to urban campuses, like GWU. Cornell composts their agricultural and campus waste, and also practice solid waste management with traditional materials like paper, aluminum, batteries and cardboard.

In the upcoming Presidential election, the threats of global warming and depleting resources, have given the environment a place under the political spotlight.

President Bush favors drilling in the Artic refuge in order to open refuge for gas and oil exploration. He proposed $1.7 billion to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells as a source for alternative fuels while in office and supports market-based solution to improve air quality. He supports 1.5-mpg increase for SUVs and light trucks by 2007.

John Kerry opposes oil exploration in Arctic refuge. He promotes clean, renewable fuel sources, especially ethanol and has set goals, with incentives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Kerry has said he will push new gas requirements, hybrid cars, and hydrogen fuel.

Ralph Nader opposes oil exploration in Arctic refuge. He said he would invest in renewable energies such as wind and solar power. Nader said he does not want to subsidize energy interests, but instead promote sustainable energy and push for more efficient automobiles and energy sources.

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