Classrooms go green with new initiative

By Trent Zbichorski

zbichorstr@mnstate.edu

Reduce, reuse, recycle are the three R’s everyone hears about time and time again. If you take a look around, you might notice the trash and recycling bins located all throughout campus. In an effort to go green, trash cans have been removed from classrooms in Weld and Lommen in hopes of increasing recycling around campus.

The program went into full effect on Monday, Nov. 17. Trash cans have been relocated to the hallways for students to dispose of their waste properly.

“It’s an idea that’s been around for a while, and it’s happened at some other colleges,” said Joseph Herbst, sustainability coordinator for MSUM. “We have thought about doing it here and the timing of it really came about when the society and the environment class decided to take this on as their project for the semester.”

The goal of the project is to eliminate people throwing away recyclables in trashcans.

“I think in the long run, it will increase recycling rates,” Herbst said. “More people will recycle instead of just taking the convenient option and throwing it in the trash can on their way out of the classroom.”

Students in the society and the environment class made sure to go forward with the idea in an effort to emphasize recycling habits. 

“It will make life a little easier for our general maintenance workers and will also make people more aware of recycling,” Herbst said. “There are some things you can do to change behavior, but you also have to try and make it a little easier for people, so I think we are doing that with this effort.”

The program will affect students who currently have classes in Weld or Lommen, but the Office of Campus Sustainability has plans of making every classroom trash can free in the near future.

“I like the idea of removing trash cans from classrooms,” said Aries Serrano, a mass communications senior. “I make sure to recycle whenever I can and to do anything that will help our planet out in the long run.”

The length of the project will depend on how smooth the transition is. It will also determine if it will be implemented campus wide.

“If it’s a horrible disaster, we may have to revisit whether this is the right time or what adjustments might need to be made,” Herbst said. “I think its got enough momentum that it probably will be everywhere within a year or less.”

With the intention of increasing recycling around campus, Herbst hopes people will step up and do their part.

“Recycling is led by example and if people see someone doing it, they are more than likely to choose the recycling bin if it’s located next to a garbage can,” Herbst said.

But why aren’t recycling bins put in the classrooms instead of removing the trash cans?

“We have to have several different recycling bins for all of the different materials that we are recycling,” Herbst said. “The number of bins required would be very high and really cost prohibitive in the long run.”

Now that the start of the program is underway, the Office of Campus Sustainability is ready for the challenges that may lie ahead.

“Sustainability isn’t always convenient and I think that’s one of the major themes,” Herbst said. “It probably won’t be convenient at first, but I think we will get used to it and it’s a change for students that needs to happen.”

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