A pleasantly mild winter day drove my friends and me to eat lunch in the grass between the Graham Center and Owa Ehan. After finishing, I tossed my trash in a nearby trashcan, but a bin for my recyclables was nowhere to be found. As a graduate student in the biology department I’ve witnessed far too much environmental devastation to neglect basic recycling, so I started making my way towards my office in Viertes Haus with recyclables in hand.
I walked through OE, past the Engineering & Computer Science building, and into VH, finally finding a recycling bin outside my own office on the third floor. I walked past more than a dozen trash cans, but not a single place to recycle. I wish that this was an anomaly; perhaps I took one of the few routes that hadn’t yet received one of the 4,200 recycling bins that FIU boasts owning. It was not.
I’ve encountered this problem while taking many routes across campus with the situation in PG-5 being the worst. Standing in the center of the food court equidistant from Dunkin Donuts, Moe’s and Chick-fil-A, one can clearly see a trash can in every direction (totaling seven) but no recycling in the entire food court. This is a problem, but not an intangible, inaccessible one like most environmental issues; the resources already exist, including a university wide single-stream recycling system.
FIU declares being “World’s Ahead,” having a sustainability office, a solar house, an app for a carpool program and many other conservation-minded programs but maintains an unencouraging recycling system for post consumer waste. How is this the case?
FIU’s “Office of Sustainability” is responsible for the solar house, the nature preserve and a number of green events (like Recyclemania starting early February), but they do not have any influence on recycling infrastructure or management.
Instead, waste is managed by FIU’s Facilities Management with the food court in PG-5 being managed independently by FIU’s Business Services. I have been informed by FIU staff that programs, staff, and infrastructure vary between buildings which would partially explain the unequal distribution of bins.
Yet I have also seen hundreds of unused recycling bins kept in storage areas, loading zones, and the untraveled peripheries of campus. Instead of utilizing its investment, FIU subscribes to an ad hoc policy decided by each building’s custodial staff and managers.
Representatives from FIU GoGreen have cited costs of bins and increased janitorial work as deterrents to the further implementation of recycling but our current system is unjust to our students, our environment and our conscious university.
FIU needs to better leverage its existing recycling program; we students are ready to expand stewardship down to the most basic level, we just need a better infrastructure to help us do the work.
Letters to the Editor are not written by Panther Press Staff. They are submitted by readers of Panther Press. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Image provided by Jason Howard.