Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Picture this: you walk outside of your dorm or apartment and start your walk to class. Your expected-to-be casual stroll is interrupted by the sight of drink bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and trash of all kind. The waste may not be your own, but as members of this community, we have a duty to ensure a healthy and unpolluted public environment. We, as a university, need to create a club/extracurricular group that devotes free time to cleaning up the streets of West Chester.

According to Planet Aid, “The average college student produces a whopping 640 pounds of trash annually.” A percentage of this trash is ending up in our streets, which has been discovered to negatively impact our environment.

As most of us know, litter releases unhealthy toxins into the environment. Yet, this common knowledge has not stopped the litter epidemic. What else does litter affect? Well, what about the fact that litter can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos and bacteria? (World Atlas). That’s right West Chester residents, maybe if we want to stop getting warning notices about mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus, we need to control the amount of litter in the environment!

It doesn’t stop there; the Department of Environmental Protection has stated, “Litter pollutes our roadways, public lands and waterways, decreases property values, and cleaning it up, wastes tax dollars.” As you can see, litter remains a hazardous problem at large but also in our community. This is why action must be taken.

But let’s give credit where it’s due. We understand that many people certainly understand the gravity of the problem and abstain from littering entirely. Maybe you pick up a piece of trash or two – heck maybe you even pick up any trash you see and if that’s the case, you rock superstar. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As inspiring and proactive as these individual acts are, something more needs to be done to address the problem on a greater scale.

We, as a university, need to create a club/extracurricular group that devotes free time to cleaning up the streets of West Chester.

West Chester University has undoubtedly created certain clubs that relate to environmental sustainability and waste elimination from the University such as the Zero Waste Committee. The work of this committee focuses on “education of the campus community as well as the incorporation of more efficient waste reduction, composting and recycling programs campus-wide” (West Chester University). The mission of this club is essential to generate change and awareness among our campus. However, in order to transform the world around us to the full extent, we need to create a strategic plan as a student body to clean the streets on a daily/weekly basis.

Just two years ago, 72 students at Penn State University rallied together for a five-hour trash collection event. In just a few hours of covering a majority of the campus, the students collected nearly 14,400 cigarette butts. If a nearby university can collect this much waste solely in cigarette butts over a span of five hours, imagine the difference we can make in our community with a group dedicated to this mission.

Alivia Roma is a media and cultures major student with a journalism minor at West Chester University. AR884817@wcupa.edu

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