Dear Editor,

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
SJU junior