Campus littering requires our attention
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 00:04
Sheets of paper, cigarette butts, disposable cups, and even dining hall cups—does this sound like a pretty picture?
Unfortunately, this picture describes much of the Brandeis campus.
The campus walkways, lawns, academic and residential quads are constantly covered with trash, and the garbage has almost become a normal part of our campus.
During my first year here, litter has been unavoidable around campus, especially in the most heavily visited areas.
Massell Quad, known for its garden setting, has fallen to heavy littering throughout the year.
The pond area tends to collect the most garbage, which includes—but is not limited to—used cigarettes, coffee cups, plastic snack packaging and reusable cafeteria cups.
Despite the new receptacles now standing around campus, littering is still a notable problem.
Academic areas such as Mandel Quad have seen their share of damage too, despite the unmistakable presence of waste and recycling receptacles in multiple areas.
The walkways and bushes around these areas collect great amounts of waste, ranging from tissue paper to food waste, cigarettes to plastic dining utensils.
When this littering combines with an absence of trash and recycling receptacles, the problem only gets worst.
While we know of the harmful environmental impacts of littering, this issue could also adversely affect the University in other ways, too.
Littering also harms Brandeis’ reputation and image. We are one of the finest institutions in the country, accepting the most disciplined and responsible students.
If visitors come and see the Great Lawn and the sidewalks in the residential quads sprinkled with garbage, they may doubt the students’ responsibility and ability to maintain and respect their school and its surroundings.
Prospective students may be discouraged from spending the next four years in such an environment. As such, our recognition as an advanced, high-class institution would be compromised.
We have all been taught the importance of having a sustainable and eco-friendly campus, and the University’s efforts in attaining that goal are commendable.
The Campus Sustainability Initiative and Sustainable Energy Program have come a long way to make Brandeis more environmentally friendly.
The initiative, consisting of a coalition of students, departments and staff, works to promote awareness of environmental issues at Brandeis.
Student representatives from the organization, known as Eco-Reps, are assigned to address different sustainability needs of their resident quads.
The group also cooperates with the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, which funds projects enhancing campus sustainability, to implement environmental projects.
According to the Fund’s website, past projects have included creating a drying rack rental system and installing a recycling deposit machine in Usdan.
The Sustainable Energy Program, a division of the initiative, specifies its goals to reducing energy use and inefficiency around campus, and is currently organizing an energy modernization project to renovate Brandeis’ aging energy system.
According to an article in BrandeisNOW from this February, the Board of Trustees has contributed $5 million to the project.
I support these projects to reduce waste, promote recycling, and modernize energy use.
We are moving in the right direction, but the initiative is incomplete.
I find it rather ironic that while our sustainability initiatives and projects have placed the bulk of their attention on waste and energy, they have given little consideration to the littering problem—the most rudimentary, and perhaps easily addressed, environmental issue on campus.
The large amounts of visible garbage show that it is a pressing enough issue, and along with raising awareness of recycling and climate change, we should also promote greater awareness of littering on campus.
The newly placed trash and recycling cans around the school are part of the right idea, but we can do more.
We should increase the number of trash and cigarette receptacles around campus, especially where students tend to congregate, and we should also discourage campus littering.
This is where the Sustainability Initiative and the Student Union can contribute more.
The Initiative and the Union can organize campus-wide efforts to clean up the University, and educate students more on the harmful effects of littering.
According to the West Virginia University’s Office of Sustainability, the campus’s sustainability project has implemented such efforts, among which is an initiative to distribute portable extinguishing ashtrays.
Brandeis could emulate these practices to resolve our own littering problem.
Furthermore, I suggest that the University impose strict policies on littering, with penalties for violation.
University sanitation is simply too important to neglect, and students must make an effort to not to litter on campus anymore.
Similar to any sustainability initiative, this project cannot be accomplished without support from students.
The problem is serious enough that we really cannot ignore it anymore, and the amount of garbage scattered across the campus demonstrates the necessity of attention for this issue.
Our physical campus is an important part of our school, and for most of us, our home as well.
I do not believe that anyone would voluntarily turn his or her house or backyard into a dump. The time is long overdue for us to be responsible for our actions and do our part to maintain the University.