Following an influx in the number of recycling containers in many campus buildings, students may soon seen these receptacles along the perimeter of another familiar location — the Diag.
Members of the University’s branch of the Student Sustainability Initiative recently launched a movement to increase awareness of the negative effects of wasteful behavior on the environment through drafting a petition advocating for recycling bins on the Diag in an effort to allow more students to practice sustainable living.
SSI members LSA sophomore Megan Pfeiffer, LSA junior Samantha Schiebold and Business junior Poonam Dagli began circulating the petition on April 17, and within three days already garnered 734 signatures.
“This is an open petition, so that as many people as possible can show their support for this,” Schiebold said.
Schiebold said the release of the petition to the student body was timed in accordance with the I Heart the Eco Festival at the University on Earth Day, an annual event that brings together student activists and serves as a forum to discuss environmental concerns.
She added that at the festival there were laptops available for attendees to sign the petition and receive information about its goals. Several hundred students had signed up by 11 a.m. that day, she said.
Schiebold said the group aims to use mindful tactics that are more appealing to students in attracting their support and that this will hopefully play a role in the success of their plan.
“Scare tactics don’t work,” Schiebold said. “People don’t like to be hounded with statistics or scared into recycling, but if we simply have appropriate bins present, there is no reason a student wouldn’t be willing to walk by on their way to class and drop trash in the right bin.
Pfeiffer said she has been active in the environmental movement since she attended high school in California, where her community provided ample opportunity for students to be active in environmentally conscious movements. She added that it was easier for students with less ambitious environmental goals to still contribute to the movement, something she hopes to see implemented at the University and believes can be done through adding increased recycling bins.
“The University must be the leaders and best also in terms of the sustainability movement as a whole, and we are providing the roots for that foundation; with initiatives such as recycling on the Diag, we can retain that standing nationally and globally,” Pfeiffer said.
Her colleagues said that as a business student, Dagli provided a unique perspective and approach to the initial stages of developing the petition and implementing the proposal. Dagli said she was inspired to be active in the environmental movement after reading the novel “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn, a philosopher and sustainability theorist, who examines the vicious circle of biological existence in an attempt to discover what role humans play.
“People often fail to recognize both the short and long term effects that even the smallest acts can have on the environment around us,” Dagli said.
Dagli added that the Student Sustainability Initiative holds roundtable discussions that allow students to raise awareness and garner interest across the campus, even if it is “just enough to throw trash in the appropriate bins.”
“This (movement) is about affecting the world, which affects people in turn, back,” Dagli said. “It’s not so much about sustaining the planet, it’s about sustaining humanity on this planet, which in turn affects people themselves, during the course of their own daily lives”.
“People think this is altruistic, when in fact it’s the opposite — saving themselves while saving the planet is a dually good cause,” she said.