EDITORIAL: Live sustainably. Go green.

Sept. 13, 2011 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: Recycling and sustainability services throughout campus are offered to the WKU community, but not everyone is educated on how to recycle, where to recycle or the impact recycling creates.

OUR VIEW: Students, faculty and staff must think about the products they buy and the final resting place of the waste from those products. They also need to educate themselves about sustainability — not only on WKU’s campus but also in Bowling Green.

Despite WKU leading in the commitment to going green, Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said the university creates about 500,000 pounds of waste and only about 13 percent of that gets recycled.

“How do you reduce your waste on a campus the size of a small city?” she asked.

Recycling itself is not the answer.

Every time your recycle a product, it’s downgraded to a less recyclable product because new non-recyclable synthetic materials are added to them. For example, many “recycled” products say they were created from 30 percent recycled material.

So instead of buying bottles and bottles of water that can only be recycled so many times, use aluminum cans because they are not only recyclable, but also generate revenue.

Because of this, schools including Washington University in St. Louis banned bottled water on campus. Students at WKU prefer having 20 ounce Pepsi product bottles instead of aluminum cans because they are larger with resealable lids. Students need to move away from plastic if WKU is to remain ahead in the green movement.

Other simple sustainability concepts exist on campus as well, including printing double-sided papers and reusing all kinds of bags.

“There are solutions. It’s just educating people to be a part of these solutions,” Ryan-Downing said.

Another issue that came to our attention is how off-campus students living in apartment complexes and rental houses recycle.

The city does provide curbside recycling, but many off-campus students don’t have that luxury at their apartments and rentals. Another option lies in the community collection recycling center resting behind the service and supply center on campus.

Off-campus students: everything in Bowling Green, especially near campus, sits about five minutes away from each other. So bring your recyclables to the recycling center.

And next time you shop at the grocery store or even shop on campus, think about your food and other products’ packaging. Plastic wrap and bags don’t help sustainability, and neither do the tons of styrofoam on campus and in grocery stores.

Nothing ever goes away, and if this doesn’t sway you to become more green, take a trip to where our trash goes in a landfill in Ohio County.

As Ryan-Downing said, “One trip to a landfill will make it very clear as to why you should care.”

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.