Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

A statistic from the Clean Air Council estimates that “Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.” This statistic is verified if you sit at Sykes and watch people throw away bottle after bottle. Why aren’t people environmentally responsible? College community members stereotypically consider themselves intellectually superior. This claim cannot be true on the campus of WCU, where for 10minutes I sat and watched 21 bottles thrown away in one single trashcan. This is ignorance and stupidity at its finest! I pity the workers who must take out the trash in Sykes; they never get a break. Because of all of the bottles in the trash, the cans fill up and overflow in no time at all. The same people who complain about the overflowing trash are the same people who I see stuffing their recyclables into the trashcan.

What is so hard about recycling? I know, people may find life too difficult if they must put a bottle in a separate container. I sympathize. Why would someone expend energy on something good for the environment when they can use all of that extra energy to guzzle down a beer?

Wake up! I am tired of seeing people neglecting the environment. It is a result of this “someone else is to blame” attitude. People think, “It’s not my problem.” According to Ocean Watch, one plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. So why should you care? You are not going to be alive 450 years from now. You should care because you possess the education and knowledge that opens up the doors to life. You possess the knowledge and foundation to change the world. You, a member of higher education, must lead the way and set an example.

I began to think of ways to solve this problem. How can recycling be easier on campus? There already are trashcans on every floor in every building. But one thing I did notice is that people do tend to recycle when a recycling bin and a trashcan are side by side. At Sykes there are five trashcans in the eating area and only one recycling bin at the entrance of the eating area. So a simple solution would be to place recycling bins next to every trash receptacle in Sykes. However, these recycling containers must only have lids that allow bottles/cans to be placed in them so that people do not put trash in them. Doesn’t this idea make life easier and recycling hassle-free?

I guess I cannot blame WCU students. We see this trait everywhere. When you go to amusement parks, sporting events and concerts there are only trashcans. It is easy to fall into such an unhealthy pattern of environmental carelessness. But again, we are the people who possess the knowledge to make changes. We have the opportunity to be educated and to spread healthy environmental habits.

Do yourself a favor. Recycle so that you can say you are educated.

Adam Mietelski is a second-year student majoring in secondary mathematics education. He can be reached at

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