Point: Should Schreiber classrooms get rid of recycling bins?

Rachel Ellerson, Contributing Writers and Staff Writer

I would just like to start by saying that I support recycling as it is a crucial step towards sustainability within our nation. However, at our school there are some major issues with how we recycle.

The biggest problem with recycling within our school is the use of plastic recycling bins. The point of recycling plastic water bottles is to lessen the amount of plastic we dump into landfills and, hopefully, to reduce plastic usage overall. However, it is completely counterintuitive to recycle in the first place if we are creating more plastic products to accomplish it.

“I’m not going to advocate against plastic bins, but I do think that they’re not necessarily being used in the most efficient manner,” said senior Kimberly Winter.

It is important to note that Winter is the President of the Treehugger’s Club.

While it is important to recycle plastic bottles, what is the point if we use plastic containers?

“I believe that we should not have any progam, based on research by various professors and organizations.  Research by Professor Benjamin of Clemson University finds that the amount of resources used to recycle goods exceeds the amount of resources used in the disposal of those goods,” said senior Jacob Bloch.

Of course this begs the question— how do we actually mitigate the amount of plastic we throw away?

To make matters worse, in many of the classrooms, there are plastic garbage bags lining the recycling bins. Isn’t it ironic that we are lining the conservation of the environment with its demise? Obviously this is for convenience, but if we want to become more sustainable as a school, and as a country, we have to make sacrifices. Recycling and environmental conservation is not going to be easy, but the result will be worth it. If we are unwilling to make those sacrifices, then what are we actually achieving?  Sure we have recycling bins in most of the classrooms, but between the use of plastic recycling bins and plastic garbage bags, are we actually reducing our school’s plastic waste by that much?

There are many means to be better about recycling, as a community and a school. Promoting recycling in a way that does not involve plastic recycling bins is completely feasible.

For starters, we could stop selling water bottles in the cafeteria and in vending machines. While this may seem crazy, it really is not. San Francisco, California, and Concord, Massachusetts both put bans on plastic water bottles. If an entire city can ban the selling and use of water bottles, it is not unreasonable for a high school to do this. Is the small profit that we get from the plastic water bottles really worth the extreme and legitimate environmental cost? Or can we accept that our environmental efforts will require sacrifices in not just comfort, but monetary success?

Secondly, we could put more hydration stations in the school, and in more accessible places. Some of the hydration stations that we currently have are not necessarily in the best locations, so perhaps putting one in the language hallway or in the A or B wing may be a more effective place.

Although it may be slightly costly to purchase these, in the long run, the environmental benefit of these is worth it.

Finally, we can incentivize bringing in reusuable water bottles. In actual environmental economics, allocative trading is a practice where businesses are incentivized to be more environmentally efficient.

The concept of incentivizing students to be more environmentally efficient can easily be put into place in a school. For example, if a student brings in a reusable water bottle a certain number of times, then they can receive extra credit points.

There are much better ways we can reduce our plastic waste and, somewhat ironically, our current method of recycling is not the best way.