Every day, hundreds of students file out of Peirce Hall holding paper coffee cups. They pass by a bulletin board overflowing with paper fliers and a newspaper rack with free daily issues of The New York Times.
But many of these items will not be recycled. Dave Heithaus, Kenyon’s newly appointed director of the Office of Green Initiatives, hopes to change that.
Heithaus and the green initiatives interns he works with are creating a blueprint for a strategic campus-wide recycling system. Currently, they are finishing up a recycling location inventory to identify places where recycling bins should go.
Kenyon’s recycling system currently cannot recycle plastic Solo cups, paper cups, bottle caps, broken glass or styrofoam. Although people can recycle paper, the College has no plan in place to encourage students to recycle flyers or newspapers. Kenyon’s recycling program is incomplete, according to Heithaus.
“Many of our peers’ programs seem to be more thorough and detailed in terms of infrastructure, purpose, clarity of instruction and community buy-in,” Heithaus said.
Oberlin College has paper-retriever bins around campus. The paper from these receptacles is collected by a company that pays Oberlin for their recycled paper. In contrast, though many Kenyon students read The Kenyon Collegian and the Times, the College has no clearly marked bins to encourage recycling them.
“People grab newspapers at the door, then walk in here, read them, take them apart and leave them laying all over the tables,” AVI cashier Diana McClellan said.
Newspapers are not the only problem; fliers and printouts, popular forms of advertisement, are often unnecessarily thrown in the trash or left to drift around campus.
“The issue with the newspapers, Collegians, magazines, printouts, fliers and all other paper could be solved with a $300 budget and six well-labeled bins,” Matt Meyers ’17, Student Council sustainability chair, said.
The College of Wooster recently increased the number of recycling bins on its campus, installing them in its academic and administrative buildings and around the campus grounds.
At Kenyon, many public trash cans are not accompanied by recycling bins. Though ECO spent $10,000 at the beginning of this year to install recycling bins in first-year dorms, upperclass housing still offers few recycling opportunities. Many community spaces, like Middle Path, also lack recycling bins.
“There should really be a recycling bin next to every trash can,” Meyers said.
In 2014, Denison University’s Office of Sustainability published a manual entitled “Campus Guide to Recycling and Waste Disposal.” As of right now, Kenyon has no equivalent of this publication.
“The bins are there, but there’s just not always enough information put out about their use, what’s put in them,” Emma Longstreth ’18 said. “I care in the context of being a CA, especially because we are encouraged, as part of our job, to promote sustainability in our halls and people don’t really know what the labels on the bins even are.”
“While there’s plenty of room to improve, we also have a lot of support from top to bottom right now,” Heithaus said. “The key now is to be smart, strategic and purposeful as we move ahead.”