This past year, Miami University placed 289th out of 346 colleges participating in RecycleMania, a recycling competition started in 2001 between Miami and Ohio University. Unlike many of the other campuses participating, Miami lacks outdoor recycling facilities.
It is embarrassing for Miami to have fallen so far behind in our recycling efforts after showing such leadership only a decade ago. The April 20 demonstration outside of the Shriver Center by Green Oxford showed just how many potential recyclables are being sent to Rumpke’s landfill from Miami each day. Donning jumpsuits and gloves, Green Oxford found over one-quarter of the waste in the trash cans right outside Shriver could have been recycled.
The university has dismissed calls for outdoor recycling bins due to the costs of installation and maintenance. Miami has also claimed students should simply carry recyclables to the nearest indoor bin. Given that most buildings are closed at night, this is a half-solution at best. The editorial board of The Miami Student believes it is time for Miami to make good on its many green promises.
It is not vital for 300 bins — the number Miami has claimed would be necessary for effective collection — to be immediately installed all over campus. Miami should start by installing combination recycling and trash receptacles in high traffic areas outside the Shriver Center, King Cafe and Bell Tower Place. Installation of the remaining receptacles can take place whenever old trashcans need replacement. In this manner, cost can be minimized and distributed over a period of time. This editorial board is not suggesting Miami make a huge capital investment in the middle of a budget crisis. It just seems Miami is all too eager not to spend on outdoor recycling and has worked hard to find reasons not to make the investment instead of finding ways to make it possible.
At the same time, Miami should take steps to reduce the use of disposable items — especially packaging — in dining halls and carryout locations. The effort to reduce plastic bag use by selling reusable bags showed promise but has had limited results. At the same time, dining halls are stocked with hundreds of paper coffee cups when many students own reusable mugs but have been discouraged from using them. Reducing the use of disposable materials will save Miami the cost of constantly replenishing them and sending them to the landfill after they have been used just once.
In addition to the vast potential for long-term cost savings, increasing recycling and reducing waste is simply the right thing to do. Miami must stop living the delusional fantasy that resources are infinitely replenishable and landfills infinitely expandable.