Written by Joe Passantino

College is one of the easiest places to fall into the trap of just tossing everything in the trash. I know the struggle; students have to worry about papers, exams, their social lives and trying to squeeze some sleep in here and there. But as students learn how to live alone for the first time, they have to get rid of their “waste” somehow.

Last year I lived in a townhouse, and my only option for disposing of used products was to throw them into a pair of large dumpsters, one of which was marked “Recycling Only.” But what I started to notice was that others in the complex didn’t seem too concerned about placing their recyclables in the proper dumpster. Both dumpsters were a combination of recyclables and garbage, which bothered me. I just didn’t understand why others couldn’t take the few seconds needed to make sure potentially useful items didn’t go to a landfill.

As students, it is important that we take responsibility and be mindful of where we place our disposables. Your school likely has a list of what can and can’t be recycled on campus, like this one from my school, The College of New Jersey. Most students know that paper, bottles and cans are recyclable, but maybe less are aware that many municipalities accept batteries for recycling. (Some stores, such as Home Depot, have in-store collection programs to recycle batteries.) Ink cartridges go pretty quickly for many college students, so they might want to consider seeking out a store like Office Max, where they can recycle cartridges for rewards such as store credit. Surely, these solutions are better than throwing these items in with unfinished food from last night’s all-nighter.

Of course, students might be so pressed for time that they are tempted to do the latter. To counter this, I suggest gathering a set of recyclable materials ahead of time and taking one trip a week to a location with a specialized recycling program. Another option for students is to sign up for one of TerraCycle’s Brigade programs. These programs give students the opportunity to collect a waste item of their choice and send their collections to TerraCycle for redeemable points. TerraCycle’s has recycling options for items such as Scotch tape and writing instruments, which college students are sure to go through in spades throughout the year.

The recycling paths open to students are limitless – it is just a matter of consciousness and motivation!

Image Credit:
Hector Alejandro
CC BY 2.0

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