By: Tyler Carlson
My name is Tyler Carlson, I am a senior here at Furman University and I have held the Recycling and Compost Auditor position for the past three years. Here at Furman University’s Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, I am responsible for ensuring the campus is kept clean by collecting recycling and compost in designated bins. In my free time, I have created the Bee Club for fellow students who share my goals of saving the bees, an aspect of nature that I believe to be incredibly important.
My fellowship here on campus involves driving all over Furman University’s campus in an appointed golf cart to specific recycling locations. At each location exists 3 bins, one designated for plastic and aluminum recyclables, another for solely paper recyclables, and the final one for trash destined for the landfill. Through my fellowship, I am tasked with surveying the plastic/aluminum bin and paper bin where I must make a decision as to whether removing the bag from the bin and replacing it or leaving the bag until my next route will be more sustainable.
Currently there are twenty-nine recycling drop off locations across Furman’s campus. Through my job, I have observed that one of the most abundant recycling mishaps is contamination. Contamination is the act of putting either an incorrect recyclable in the wrong bin or placing a non-recyclable into one of the designated recycling bins. The most common example of this act is placing cardboard into the paper bins. While it is commonly believed that cardboard is a paper product and therefore recyclable in a designated recycling bin, it is not well known that cardboard must be recycled in its own locations, found in every majority housing and academic location on Furman’s campus. However, within this classification of recyclables there can be more restrictions. Pizza boxes for example cannot be recycled due to the grease within the boxes seeping out during the recycling process. But all is not lost! Pizza boxes can in fact be returned to the earth through composting.
I hope I was able to shed some light into the ins and outs of the recycling and composting program here at Furman University, and show you that recycling involves being aware of how you are disposing of your trash. One wrongly recycled material could compromise the whole process leading to more hurt than help, but there are always ways to recycle, reuse, or repurpose your “trash!”