I participated in the Watch Your Waste Challenge last week as part of the Week of Sustainability, collecting the trash I generate instead of throwing it away. It was meant to demonstrate how much waste we export beyond our peripheries, but instead, highlighted an achievement for students at SJU: this was the first time they have access to organics recycling.
I carried three plastic bags to divide my trash, recycling, and organic waste throughout the week. It was difficult at first, our muscle memory to use a receptacle then forget about the matter was initially difficult to overcome. We deposit more than the item in the trash bin, we deposit a responsibility to clean up the mess, outsourcing our problems elsewhere.
Once I began collecting the waste left in my wake, the debris I created quickly became clear through the transparent plastic. It caused me to evaluate if I wanted to dry my hands with a paper towel, or grab a paper plate at a club event; knowing, I’d have to carry it around as a testament to my imprint on the planet.
With the challenge ended, Johnnies have returned to disposing their organics in the trash, where they will be sent to a landfill, encased in a dirt sarcophagus, doomed never decompose. We can do better, even if it means taking a compost bin on the link to CSB where they have organics recycling. Or, we can get the same program started here.
Let’s play smart, not hard.
Cormac Quinn ’19