Reduce, Reuse, Re-cyclone: Why Have We Not Been Recycling?

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According to Boston College, the average American uses 680 pounds of paper a year. This would mean that Casady students, on average, use 591,600 pounds each year. This statistic would suggest that the return of an active recycling program is essential here at Casady.

After all, we pride ourselves in our charitable role in the community, and the failure to do so through recycling should not be acceptable. From shaving heads for the Children’s Hospital and collecting money to build wells for African schools, Casady has always had an awareness of those in need, and constantly strives to better society in whatever way possible. That is why I was confused when I was in the library with a stack of paper in hand looking for a recycling bin, only to find there wasn’t one. I’m sure many others have also had this experience over the past year, so I wanted to find out where exactly those recycling bins went.

The previous company we recycled with, Abitibi Paper Retriever, used to pick up and pay for our paper. However, they were bought and now are the WCA Waste Corporation. Now, instead of being paid for our paper, we would have had to pay them $75 a month to have our paper retrieved. The environmental club would have had to pay this fee, and thus the contract was cancelled.

The task fell on the environmental club to find a new recycler. Mackenzie Blalock (’16), President of the environmental club, contacted multiple companies throughout the year through emails and conference calls in order to find a suitable provider. By January, she came into contact with Oklahoma City Waste Management and arranged a deal in which they could pick up paper for $25 each time. She successfully found a reasonably priced program, yet found herself without support from the Casady administration and community. The school has seemed to be stalling when it comes to signing the contract, leaving Mackenzie confused and frustrated.  According to Mackenzie: “No one’s wanting to seem to even care about this recycling program. I’m also kind of upset because I was taught environmentalism at Casady when I was in Lower Division, and now we don’t have a recycling program.”

The lack of support seems to be rooted in a lack of awareness about the significance of recycling, and the lack of priority it has among Casady students. If the general student body was to voice more concern, perhaps a recycling program could have been in effect by now. We need to be more aware of the impact we have on this earth and how waste can be of detriment to the environment, as well as ourselves. As Mr. Delgrosso, sponsor of the environmental club, put it: “We can’t be this disposable, throw-away society indefinitely. We are going to run out of room on this planet to get rid of our waste. Reusing as much as we can is just part of a sound, sustainable society. It just makes sense.” 

Despite its ineffective recycling, Casady has been very successful at limiting food waste. SAGE dining gives uneaten food that has not been exposed to the public to Skyline Ministries and to Newland Academy, a school for refugee children. The team also keeps accurate food production records, and can estimate how much food needs to be cooked in order to minimize waste. According to the food service director, Kevin Schoenhoff, only 5-10% of the food is wasted. Scraps are put into one of the two compost piles behind Calvert Hall. Anna Mann (’16), president of the composting club, initiated composting last spring in order to limit food waste and create natural fertilizer for plants around campus. Though it has been successful so far, both Anna and Mr. Schoenhoff would like it to receive more student support and continue to grow. SAGE and the composting club set a standard that hopefully will be reached soon by our recycling program.

Although it is still unclear as to when the recycling contract will be signed, it is under works and will most likely be in effect next school year. As well as paper, the environmental club hopes to be able to recycle plastic and metal as well. Until then, you are urged to be conscious of how much paper you use. You could even start a small compost at your house and eat less packaged foods to reduce your trash. Also, please consider joining either recycling club or composting club next year. Just a little bit of your time could have a substantial impact on the earth.