Resident assistants lack recycling education

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Copy Editor

According to Sarah Jackson, assistant manager of housekeeping, housekeeping has chosen to permanently remove the recycling bins from certain buildings on Berry’s campus within the past few years. Junior resident assistants Kristen Karrh and Meredith Walker noted the absence of bins in East and West Mary Halls this year. 

Jackson said that bins have been removed because of consistent problems with contamination such as food waste and Styrofoam. Housekeepers and others who pick up the recycling from the bins around campus are trained to throw a bag in the trash if it contains a single contaminated item because if a bag is contaminated, it could contaminate an entire load of recyclables that would then be thrown out. 

Jackson says that signs are supposed to be posted with each recycling bin on campus informing students of what materials can and cannot be recycled, but sometimes they are removed. These instructions are also given to housekeepers. Paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastics and glass bottles are all recyclable, while food, liquid and Styrofoam cannot be recycled. 

“If you’re not sure if something can be recycled, just throw it in the trash,” Jackson said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Senior Elle Carver, president of Students Against Violating the Earth (SAVE), said that despite the fact that the signs posted around campus claim that glass is a recyclable, students cannot recycle glass or else the entire bag will be considered contaminated.

Aside from what the housekeepers are taught about recycling and the signs that are posted, very little recycling training goes on at Berry. 

“There is no training for recycling or anything really environmentally conscious,” junior resident assistant Kristen Karrh said. “None of that is taught or trained on for residence life.”

Karrh is passionate about the environment and believes that recycling is incredibly important, but understands that it is not residence life’s top priority. Another junior resident assistant, Meredith Walker, agreed that recycling, while accepted, is not a primary focus of residence life.

“It’s an option of something to cover in a program or a bulletin board, but it’s not required,” junior resident assistant Meredith Walker said. 

Senior Tommy McBride, head resident of Morgan-Deerfield, believes that training through residence life could go a long way and help change the attitude toward recycling on campus. 

“It’s an important issue to bring up,” McBride said. “We do bulletin boards as well and once in a while people will have a recycling bulletin board … but it’s minimal. There’s not as much of an impact as I think it would be with like a program or a lecture or something.”

Jackson said that initiatives have been attempted in the past, but that nothing has lasted. Some initiatives have included having a student liaison through residence life and giving out individual bins to the townhouses. Karrh believes that one of the main problems is the attitude toward recycling at Berry. She thinks that students know that recycling happens, but also don’t really understand it.

“I think it’ll just take a big mindset change,” Karrh said. “It is a real thing that Berry does and it’s serious. I don’t think people take recycling seriously enough.”

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