By Courtney Luther
North Central College is the first college in DuPage County to earn an Earth Flag from SCARE for its sustainability program and efforts. The college was presented the Earth flag on Thursday May 30th. (For the Storify version of this article, click here.)
Bin allocation is a key component of North Central’s sustainability efforts. According to North Central College Sustainability Coordinator Brittany Graham, “the bins are strategically placed where there is a lot of foot traffic.”
She adds that the college consciously tries to place recycling bins and garbage cans side by side for convenience.
The recycling bins are dispersed all over campus, “we have 30 outdoors and one per floor in residence halls,” explained Graham.
Senior, Amber Dvorak says that the campus sustainability program has evolved right before her eyes, “Since I got here they added a recycling bin to each dorm so you don’t have to make trips to a recycling bin so it’s easier.”
The outdoor recycling bins and garbage cans side by side to allow students the option to make the right choice to dispose of their items properly. The recycling bins are labeled to prevent any kind of confusion.
According to Assistant Vice President for Business Operations Michael Hudson, “they were always labeled, when we started the recycling program,” he added that they use signage and the universal recycling label to prevent any recycling confusion.
“I don’t want a bin in every classroom; we want waste stations in hallways where people bring out of classroom to reduce the number of bins and to save on the cost of bins,” explained Graham.
This process is still being adapted by students. Senior, Rebecca Kwaben suggests that there should be a garbage can in every room. “It’s really nice that the recycling bins are here but if there is not a garbage can the recycling bins become garbage cans.”
There are many misconceptions about recycling that students should know. Although the garbage bags and recycling bags are placed out on the curbside for pickup they are going to different places.
“They are not going to the same place they are denoted by color and will be separated by another truck,” explained Graham. Recycling bags are clear and garbage bags are black on the North Central College campus.
Do not put garbage in recycling bins. “The one thing that can contaminate a lot is food,” explained Graham.
Additionally, it is illegal to dispose of electronics. Batteries are no exception and there are battery drop offs throughout the campus for students, faculty and staff to drop off batteries. Rechargeable batteries are a more sustainable choice. Additionally, students should know that they can recycle their carpets.
Another misconception is that all paper is recyclable. According to Graham paper cups and paper plates are not recyclable. Graham adds that “any paper that food or oil has touched can not be recycled.”
When in doubt, it is important to look up your communities recycling guidelines because they do vary from facility to facility.
According to thinkgreen.com, corrugated cardboard, magazines, newspapers, office papers, paperboard, paper cardboard dairy and juice cartons, mail and phonebooks are all recyclable.
Plastic bags clog sorting facilities and should not be placed in recycling bins. “Plastic bags can not go in the recycling,” advised Graham. Some grocery stores and department stores have stations for plastic bags to be dropped off at.
“CFL light bulbs have to be properly disposed of because they have mercury in them,” explained graham.
According to EcoSalon.com, these items can not be recycled: pizza boxes, plastic bottle caps, wet paper, juice boxes plastic bags, styrofoam paper napkins/towels, wire hangers, ceramics and heavy died paper.
The North Central College campus has a sustainability facility full of reusable items from residential recycling, including electronics, scrap metal and furniture. Graham says at North Central they “try to find other places on campus that we can reuse them at different spots and then if we cant find anywhere on campus to reuse them we work with a number of different organizations that we donate to.”
The sustainability program is ever evolving and Hudson says they are open for student suggestions, “we are fortunate enough for student, faculty suggestions,” he added the students should contact the sustainability coordinator with their campus suggestions and green initiatives.
Junior Brendan Harrison thinks the college should invest in solar power, “I really think a few panels here and there would set a great example for the community.”