Many off-campus apartments still offer no recycling to residents

Dylan Grosser

Many off-campus apartments still offer no recycling to residents

Dylan Grosser

With droughts and wildfires to the west, flooding and hurricanes to the south and warmer winters in the north, many Americans are befuddled by the state of their once predictable climate. Scientists have worked to name the problem “climate change,” which has left the North American continent under siege by mother nature. Human interaction has been proven to adversely affect the environment, but now the question remains of what can be done about it.

The number one thing a person can do to help stop climate change is to reduce carbon emissions into the air. That can be achieved in multiple ways, recycling included.

When a material is recycled, it disallows the need for new “virgin” materials to be made. Making those materials are usually factories, which typically use non renewable energy sources to power them – which are bad for the environment. 

When something isn’t recycled, it ends up in a landfill. All the trash in a landfill is compacted, to make room for more trash. In that process of compaction, the oxygen is removed, which causes the trash to break down in a way that releases a special kind of greenhouse gas called methane: 25 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide. 

To prevent this, Grand Valley State University has implemented comprehensive recycling programs. At GVSU, there are locations to recycle materials around campus, in housing and in campus dining. 

The same cannot be said about many off-campus housing options around GVSU. Only half of off-campus housing offers any sort of recycling option for its resident; causing many recyclables to end up in the garbage.

TRIO townhomes and apartments is one of the off-campus housing options that does not offer any type of recycling. At one point, TRIO did offer recycling for its residents, according to assistant property manager Jenna Hentschel, but it was discontinued due to a lack of utilization.

“I feel like it should be something we look into,” she said. “We have a lot of waste going out that’s unnecessary, like cardboard and plastic and whatnot.”

Many off-campus housing said the reasoning behind not offering any recycling is because of a lack of inquiry by residents. Copper Beech townhomes said last year only three of its residents inquired about recycling. Despite this, they are still pursuing recycling, and are currently awaiting approval for a recycling program by their corporate office. Other apartment complexes, such as Hightree Townhomes that don’t have recycling, urge residents to takes their recyclables to dumpsters outside the property. 

Some off-campus housing offers some recycling, but not for all types. Evolve Student Living only offers recycling for paper and cardboard because of the dumpsters they receive from Waste Management. 

Graduated GVSU students Mara Spears, Victoria Graves, Grant Borregard, Paul Lamphere and Cassie Patarodid their senior project for their Environmental Studies Capstone class last year on the issue of off-campus recycling. According to their presentation, they identified the problem areas in the situation as a lack of knowledge by residents, lack of communication between property managers and residents, lack of recycling infrastructure and resources. 

After their problem analysis, the students then worked on solutions. Their main focus was in educating the residents and apartment complexes. They set up meetings with the property managers of 48 West and Copper Beech, and they distributed recycling pledges to residents. They recognized some of the limitations of their solutions rely on the assistance of apartment complexes and the assumption that residents care about recycling.

In 2017, many college campuses in the U.S. have made commitments to protecting the environment and being sustainable. GVSU has been recognized by many online magazines for its sustainability efforts.