Weber State University is experiencing issues with garbage not being discarded properly on campus. It is not uncommon to see empty cups, candy wrappers and lecture notes clinging to bushes outside the buildings.
A waste audit by WSU Facilities Management shows that 70 percent of the trash generated on campus could be recycled, but students instead fill the recycling bins with garbage, making it impossible to recycle the contents.
Jennifer Bodine, the sustainability coordinator for campus, said that during the 2013 fiscal year (from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013), only 17.7 percent of waste was recycled.
Michelle Harrison, a sophomore majoring in art, said she sees the problem.
“I think WSU tries to be environmentally friendly, but I don’t think it’s working out very well. I don’t see a lot of students going toward the recycling cans. They just dump everything into the other one.”
WSU produces an average of 17.3 tons of garbage each week. This equates to 1.36 pounds of garbage generated by each student per week.
The garbage WSU generates goes to the Weber County Landfill in Ogden. In 2013’s fiscal year, WSU sent more than 900 tons to the landfill. That amount of waste is enough to fill the Stewart Stadium nine times.
“We clearly have a lot of work to do,” Bodine said.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides a report each year on municipal solid waste — the term for trash or garbage. The most recent report released, from 2011, said Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash that year. However, 87 million tons of that trash was recycled or composted. The average rate for recycling in 2011 was 34.7 percent.
In the Pacific Ocean, between California and Hawaii, a garbage patch twice the size of Texas floats. This giant mass contains 7 million tons of trash and is almost 9 feet deep. The majority of the waste is land-based. It comes from the rivers that feed into the Pacific Ocean, or is brought out to sea by the wind. Five to 10 percent of fish caught in that area contain plastic particles blamed on this garbage.
WSU students can start helping to resolve the garbage problem by paying attention to what they buy and then throw away after use. Bodine encourages students to recycle as much as possible.
“Be cognizant of what you are purchasing and consuming. Instead of bottled water, consider using a refillable bottle and use the refilling stations on campus that dispense cold, filtered water.”
Jim Humphreys, a supervisor for WSU Facilities Management, also had some suggestions for how students can reduce the amount of garbage they create on campus.
“Read the signs that say ‘recycle’ and ‘landfill’ above the receptacles around campus. Become more educated as to what is recyclable and what is garbage. The safety of the future depends on what we do today.”