The average person generates 4.5 pounds of trash every day, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency; an estimated 75 percent of that waste is recyclable, but only 30 percent is actually recycled.
The Office of Campus Sustainability is trying to increase that percentage by launching a student-run recycling program at MSUM.
Sustainability Coordinator Joe Herbst decided to launch the program after hearing from several students that the recycling in the residential halls and academic buildings was inadequate.
Herbst said his goal is to find 20 dedicated students who are passionate about sustainability and recycling.
Each student will be assigned to a different building and will be responsible for collecting the recycling in that building each week. The students will receive a weekly stipend of $15 and have the opportunity to earn prizes, including an end-of-the-semester trip.
Although previous campus recycling initiatives have failed, Herbst said he believes this new student-run program has a good chance of succeeding.
“I think it will be different because it will be comprehensive,” Herbst said. “It’ll cover the entire campus. We’ll have people in the dorms; we’ll have people in academic buildings; and people will be responsible for small, out-of-the way buildings like Public Safety.”
Trisha Kempkes, a social work junior, also said she believes in the student-run program.
“Drive, commitment and excitement will make this program become something it has yet to be,” she said. “Having students who want to recycle and who are passionate to make the world a better place is the reason it will succeed.”
Students will not only collect recycling, but will also be expected to recognize the problems within their buildings and determine solutions for them, such as moving or adding recycling bins or providing more information to students.
“Campus sustainability isn’t just about greening the campus, it’s about giving the students the opportunity to get some out-of-class experience in problem solving and critical thinking, and they’ll be challenged to do that with this recycling program,” Herbst said. “I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with – if a student can increase the volume of recycling and decrease the number of bins, that’s awesome.”
The goal of the program is to increase the volume of recycling in each building by 10 percent and create a campus-wide excitement for recycling.
“Recycling is the gateway drug to sustainability,” Herbst said. “It’s not as complicated as climate change, water quality or hazardous materials. It’s a sustainability issue that’s pretty easy for people to wrap their heads around and actually have an impact on.”
Herbst will hold an informational meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in CMU 203 for any interested students.
For more information about the student-run recycling program, contact Joe Herbst at 218.477.2280.
What will be collected:
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic containers
- Steel, tin, aluminum cans
- Glass bottles, jars
BY JASMINE MAKI