Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Experimentaholic here.

It has just come to my attention that despite the fact that my university claims to have "one of the most successful recycling programs in the nation" my specific campus does not recycle plastic, metal, or paper waste. This is not to say that we don't have recycling bins - we have plenty and they are quite visible, but apparently all the waste in these bins end up in the same dumpster that is carted to the landfill. I call this process 'fauxcycling.' because it gives my university all the appearance of being concerned about the environment...without all the inconvenience of actually being concerned about the environment. I always wondered why the custodian who comes around my office dumps my paper recycling in with the trash - now I know: it is because it costs $200 a month to hire a company to come around and collect the waste, and it would inconvenience the custodians to have to make multiple trips or keep separate containers for the various kinds of recycled waste.

The worst thing about a university is that it is a bureaucracy of otherwise intelligent people who would rather not be part of a bureacracy (figure that one out). I am sure most of us have long thought that we have been recycling all this time, while in reality, all we have been doing is wasting the plastic bags used to line the recycling bins. It is disturbing that all along, under the guise of doing something positive to improve the environment, all we have been doing is contributing to the waste (yet looking so good!). It makes me want to throw those recycling bins in the trash just to make a statement.

So my question to the readers of this blog is this: how many cases of faux recycling do you know about, or have personal experience with? Do you know where your recycling goes? And how does one address this and get facilities or mantainance to start recycling?


Anonymous said...

I obviously don't know the details of your situation, but if you haven't already done so, I'd encourage you to talk with your recycling manager (or the head of facility management if you don't have a recycling manager) about this before jumping to conclusions. I hear similar stories quite often and they usually end up being based on some sort of misunderstanding. If you ask your recycling manager, I bet he or she will be able to explain what is going on, especially if the school claims to have one of the strongest recycling programs in the country.

Michelle Verges said...

Good point, Anonymous.

If your campus has a recycling committee, it would be wise to consult with faculty members and staff on that committee. I would also speak to the Director of Facilities for more information about how waste and recyclables are handled on your campus.


Meghan said...

If it turns out that you're right, and the facility doesn't recycle, expose them! I'm sure an anonymous tip to either the school or local newspaper would cause them to investigate, giving the school some major incentive to ACTUALLY recycle. :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I have a German friend who a few years ago was convinced that all Germany's recycling efforts were fauxcycling. Don't know how right she was then or now. I know that the recycling efforts in my office are genuine, couldn't be so sure for the city wide efforts.