Response to “Recycling at UNO”

Christy Lorio, Contributor

Last week the Driftwood published an article about the recycling initiatives on campus and shared a startling statistic — UNO produces 5,000,000 pounds of recyclable waste. That number initially disappointed me, but I wasn’t shocked. It only takes an observant eye and a walk around campus during mealtime to witness the waste we dispose of every day.

For students that live and/or work on campus, long days usually mean having to eat at least one meal on campus. A single meal at Subway, for example, can easily rack up six disposable products alone: the paper wrapping for the sandwich, a cup, plastic lid and straw, a chip bag and a plastic Subway bag. And, according to a recent National Geographic article “Here’s How Much Plastic Trash is Littering the Earth,” 91 percent of plastic isn’t recyclable. So while it might feel better to toss that plastic trash in with the recycling instead of the garbage can, the fact is that, according to a study in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed journal, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of trash that have been produced, only 9 percent has been recycled.

So how do we rectify this situation, both as a community and as individuals? According to Driftwood’s original article, The Galley replaced Styrofoam boxes with paper ones. That is a step in the right direction, but the disposable boxes still produce waste. It’s hard to eliminate our disposables usage entirely, but we can greatly reduce the amount of waste we produce by making mindful decisions.

For example, I see so many students at lunch time walking around campus with Chic-fil-A, Moe’s and Subway bags. Is a bag to carry your food really necessary? If so, consider bringing a reusable bag to campus. Do you absolutely need a lid for your fountain drink cup? Better yet, with a little preplanning you can avoid disposables altogether by packing a snack in reusable containers at home. Though they seem small, little changes in our daily habits could lead add up to a big change. It’s the least we can do.