A large display created by the Geneseo Environmental Organization recently appeared in the lobby of the MacVittie College Union. The display consists of two stacks of garbage cans—one representing the waste produced by the average American who doesn’t recycle or compost, while the other signifies the waste produced by someone who does recycle and compost.
The difference is stark. A person who does not recycle or compost on average produces 384 gallons of waste annually. Americans who do compost and recycle reduce their waste output to 128 gallons—two-thirds less than if they did not.
This display is appreciated and valued, because as college students we should be aware of how much waste we produce on our campus.
The colossal amount of waste that Americans produce every year is simply unacceptable. We are easily the most wasteful country in the world.
This is an avoidable waste of reusable resources, such as plastics, metals and paper, and a disaster for both aquatic and terrestrial life who must live with our often-dangerous refuse.
Although climate change has largely become the focal point of environmental activism, waste reduction is critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems and to creating a more sustainable world.
Additionally, you can reduce the amount of waste you produce dramatically without having to do much work. Buying reusable mugs and shopping bags, recycling the paper and plastics you use and not buying frivolous, wasteful things all help to reduce unnecessary waste.
Constantly, I walk around campus and see plastic bottles in trash bins right next to recycling bins, or dozens of paper coffee cups stacked up in a trash bin. It is incredibly frustrating to see people not take even the most minor steps to improve sustainability on campus.
Young people need to be the ones leading on these issues and it is not overly demanding to ask that people take these basic steps to reduce their environmental impact.
We now face a presidential administration that is actively hostile to environmental regulations, climate science and all logic and reason. Recently, President Donald Trump and the unqualified Oklahoma lawyer appointed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, announced their plans to roll back as much of the Obama era climate policy as legally possible.
With the federal government now abandoning the global effort to prevent environmental disaster, it’s up to our generation to prevent and eventually to correct the disastrous decisions currently being made by the Trump administration.
If you feel strongly about these issues, I recommend getting involved on campus, where there are several organizations actively working on these issues. For example, there is GEO, which works to promote sustainable practices on campus and to raise awareness for environmental issues.
Additionally, FORCES is another great organization that takes weekly trips to Letchworth State Park and other sites to do invasive species monitoring, cleanups or just recreational hikes.
There is also a new organization on campus called the Climate Reality Project, which is associated with a national organization of the same name. The group’s goal is to pressure colleges across the country to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy to power their schools.
These organizations are excellent ways to get involved and make a difference on campus—but there are many ways that everyone can lend a hand.
Every bit of help counts, especially during these times of such grotesque environmental policy from the current administration.