Recycling at Kent State

Rachel Sluss

The term “environment” covers a broad range of topics that, when narrowed down, are broad themselves. These topics include bodies of water, plants, animals and the atmosphere. Earth Day brings awareness to all of the issues that reside in these topics that constitute the environment we live in.

“There are so many issues with the environment, I don’t know if I could put a finger on one issue or the other, really,” said Charles Hart, associate professor of environmental health sciences. “There are a lot of things we need to work on… I think all of the issues are going to take everyone working together.”

Melanie Knowles, sustainability manager of facilities planning & operations, said recycling is the simplest thing students can do to help or sustain the environment. Recycling is enforced on campus with signs and bins in dorms, dining halls and academic buildings.

Recycling is part of Kent State’s Sustainability Initiative and reduces pollution and maintenance costs, according to the website University Facilities Management’s.

Caitlyn Boggs, sophomore accounting major, said Earth Day was important to her when she was young because environmental awareness was enforced at her school. Even though she said she does not do as much for the holiday as she used to, she still does her part by recycling.

Top five things students can do to help the environment:

1. Recycle.

2. Reduce what you’re buying.

3. If you’re not going to reuse something, donate it.

4. Save energy by turning off lights, unplugging chargers when they are not in use and turning the temperature up a couple degrees in summer and down a couple in winter.

5. Choose locally grown and organic foods and products. Less travel time means less energy wasted.

Like Boggs, Emily Gardner, sophomore criminal justice major, said she also recycles.

“I always separate the recycling from the trash,” Gardner said. “I just put the recycling in the right bin.”

University Facilities Management’s grounds staff is responsible for handling recycling at Kent State. Every Monday and Thursday, Portage County District Recycling Center collects Kent State’s recyclables and sends them out to another location where they are sorted.

Although the university makes recycling easy for students, many are either unaware of which items can be recycled, or ignore which bins are designated for recyclables and which are for trash. This makes sorting recycled materials a difficult task.

“There is typically a lot of trash that comes from Kent State that shouldn’t be,” said Dawn Banks, Portage County Recycling Education and Awareness planner. “It takes more time and energy to remove the trash.”

Though many recycling bins in the Student Center have labels that specify which items should be placed into them, others — like the blue bins in residence halls — do not.

Items that can be recycled are:

• Plastics

• Cardboard

• Newspapers

• Magazines

• Paper

• Glass

• Aluminum cans

“When you take something and recycle it, you keep it out of the landfill,” Knowles said. “Recycled products become products for new products.”

Knowles said the university’s RecycleMania contest has been an effective way to encourage students to sort their trash and recycled materials.

Hart said in addition to recycling, there are other actions students can take to help the environment. Some of these include conserving resources like water and paper, helping with river clean up and getting involved with recycling on campus. He said the sustainability department is always looking for volunteers.

“Also, students should influence their peers,” Hart said. “One of the most important things for students to do is to be that influence on other students. Get them to start doing things they want to do.”

Laura Leff, interim chairperson in the Department of Biological Services, said being aware of the impact each person has on the environment is essential.

“Environmental awareness should be more important than it is to everyone because everyone’s health depends on the environment,” Leff said.

Leff said students should start asking questions like, “Where does my drinking water come from?” Drinking water directly affects people, making them more prone to think about the subject of environmental sustainability.

“The public has to realize that they’re a lot of the problem,” Hart said. “We consume too much and want too much. We’re our own worst enemies.”

Hart said if everyone helped in small ways on their properties, the outcome would be big.

Contact Rachel Sluss at [email protected].