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UIS conducts trash audit on Earth Day

Despite several attempts to meet goals of increasing recycling initiatives and reducing waste on campus, UIS still has a ways to go before it can do so.

In conjunction with Earth Day 2013, political advocacy group Students Allied for a Greener Earth (S.A.G.E.), in cooperation with the Campus Senate committee on sustainability, conducted a “mini-campus trash audit” on the UIS Campus. The audit was conducted to determine approximately how much of UIS’ waste consisted of actual trash, and how much consisted of recyclable materials.

Two bags of trash were taken from the Public Affairs Center (PAC), as well as Lincoln Residence Hall (LRH), for a total of four. The results were shocking to some and old news to others after they were posted Monday April 22.

Found in the trash were 42 plastic containers and 11 glass bottles. What left even more of an impact was the fact that the contents of the audit filled only two out of the four bags pulled with actual trash, and the other two bags full of Styrofoam.

“It is very irritating how much people waste. This is a big reason why our ozone layer is being destroyed,” said freshman biology major MarQuis Nash. “I know it’s hard to get the whole world to recycle, but this is just upsetting to know how many people don’t care.”

In a comparison of statistics from prior trash audits, this year’s audit showed an alarming 100 percent increase in the amount of Styrofoam waste on campus. This statistic is consistent with what students look at as the norm on campus. Several students said they use Styrofoam containers on campus when they could have used a reusable container, or know someone who has.

“I can’t think of any reason why it would make sense to get a to-go box and just sit in PAC or Founder’s,” said freshman biology major Eric Foster. “They have plates for that purpose for goodness sake.”

S.A.G.E. estimated that under the assumption that the bags of trash audited were a representative sample of the entire UIS campus; approximately 45 percent of all trash that students discard is recyclable.

“The very idea of listlessly throwing away recyclables as if it were trash is appalling. On our campus there are literally cans labeled specifically for recyclables and the school even went so far as to have separate ones for plastic, paper, glass, cardboard, etc.,” said Foster.

He added that both he and his roommate actively recycle, and it is a lot easier than people may think. “We take the garbage out every week on Sunday and the task literally takes five minutes because everything is sorted into garbage and recyclables, because we have the two cans.”

S.A.G.E. posted a reminder that simply thinking before throwing items in the trash can aid in lowering the campus carbon footprint, save money in hauling fees and lessen environmental issues for the future.

S.A.G.E. is an Outstanding Student Organization award winning political advocacy group at UIS. The group works to promote awareness on campus on current environmental issues, and encourage active participation in the protection and improvement of the earth.

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