Written by Student LEAF member Sophi Robbins
As a freshman living in the dorms, this year is my first time having roommates. Not only am I adjusting to living away from home, and to dealing with a college workload, I’m also going through the semi-awkward process of living with three complete strangers.
This means many different things. It means getting ready in the dark some mornings, sleeping through blaring TV shows, and wondering whose hair is on the soap. Among the many things I had to adjust to, there’s one that I never saw coming: recycling. Or, rather, the lack thereof. While I grew up in my Boulder suburb sorting my cans and cardboard, and composting my watermelon rinds, the same was not so for my roommates. Unlike me, they didn’t really care if the empty cracker box ended up rotting away in the landfill. Though far from Earth-hating psycho-litterers, they, like 23% of Americans, didn’t know much about recycling, and, as a result, it wasn’t one of their top priorities.
As creepy as it sounds, I was that roomie picking through the trash. I just couldn’t stand by and watch as a perfectly recyclable bottle or box sat perched in the trash, never given a second chance in the world.
So, I took it upon myself to educate the inhabitants of our humble room. First things first, I had to explore UNC’s recycling system myself. I searched around the Internet, and found the handiest guide in town, right on the University website.
Once I knew what could and couldn’t be recycled, I casually mentioned it to my roommates, and suggested we get some kind of system going so that we could sort our recycling as needed for processing. For whatever reason, the rooms only provide one blue bin, despite the fact that when you take your recycling to the curb, it has to be sorted into at least three categories. I mean, come on, somebody had to have foreseen that problem!
So we gathered together two extra boxes, which, conveniently, had been sitting in an ever-growing pile of things “To Be Recycled…” in the corner of the room. We made it into a fun craft, and painted on the boxes to show what should go in each one. We labeled them paper, cardboard, and plastic and cans. It was a success in two ways: it made it easier for me to sleep at night, knowing there would be no can unrecycled (not under my roof!), and it also gave us roommates a little bonding time.
With our new, user-friendly recycling system in action, things are going as smoothly as peanut butter pie from Holmes dining hall. That is to say, the girls are getting the hang of recycling, and I pick far fewer coke bottles and mini cereal boxes out of the trash lately. If that’s not a victory, then I don’t know what is.