Suzanne Van Dam has been working on getting a recycling program on Finlandia’s campus for years. With the encouragement of student interest and other staff in on the idea of the program, it finally happened. It started at the beginning of this Spring semester, and in every building on our campus you should easily find the blue or grey
bins indicating that is the place to put your recycled goods.
Recycling is of course a step forward, but it’s not enough just to throw your trash into
the right bins. We need to eliminate having so much waste in the first place. Suzanne said, “The most important thing to do is reduce our use of any kind of trash. Recycling is one helpful thing, but the best thing is not to produce the trash in the first place…To produce less waste is really our ultimate goal.”
So how can you produce less trash? Well, it’s easy. You could buy reusable items and actually reuse them. Perhaps even test out your green thumb at growing your own fruits and vegetables, and if that isn’t your strong suit, buy them locally. Buy your items in bulk when you go shopping, and put them in reusable shopping bags when you leave. It’s the simple things you can do that will make a difference, such as using both sides of a piece of paper, not leaving the water running when you brush your teeth or do the dishes, and turning off the light when you leave the room. The little things add up.
Don’t forget why we recycle. First, it saves energy. Did you know that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a
full album on your iPod? Or that recycling 100 cans could save enough energy to light your bedroom for 2 weeks? It limits pollution. According to dosomething.org, in 2009 alone Americans produced so much trash that it could circle the Earth twenty-four times.
Recycling is also essential to help conserve our natural resources. Sometimes people forget how valuable our resources are, how much we use them every day, and how finite they can be.
Finally, recycling even benefits the economy by creating jobs.
We need to get out of the idea of becoming a “throwaway society” or a “disposable society.” Advertising encourages us to buy new, faster, and overall improved appliances when we already have something that works fine. They tell us to buy paper plates and plastic forks so we don’t have to do our dishes. Yes, this is easier, but it’s also more expensive, and when we take every
thing we have and treat it as a disposable good, we are hurting future generations as well as the land we call our home.
Suzanne said, “It’s a little extra work, but recycling is more than just putting your trash in one place or another. It also reflects our values towards the Earth, towards the resources we use, and I think it reminds us that there are limits…there is not this boundless supply of raw materials; we need to use them wisely. It takes energy to make those disposable items, and it takes energy to dispose of those items. “