Methodist Hall residents soon will be able to sign up for recycling bins.
Young Democrats bought 180 recycling bins in September, which will be distributed during Thanksgiving Break to dorm rooms who opt-in.
“We’re going to send out an email, probably within the next two weeks, and then it’s up to them to sign up. It’s on a first-come-first-served basis,” said Randy Gipson-Black, Student Government Association president.
Gipson-Black adopted the recycling initiative as one of his presidential goals shortly after being named president-elect.
The recycling bins are part of a pilot program, which might be expanded into other dorms in the future. Each dorm room can only have one recycling bin, which will be treated as furniture, meaning students will be charged if it’s taken or misplaced.
Gipson-Black said informational material on how to use the bins will be distributed soon via email, fliers, posters, and a video.
The program will start by recycling only paper and cardboard, Gipson-Black said.
A federal work study position was created specifically to handle the recycling bins. That person will take out the bins once a week.
The recycling bins originally were part of a bill drafted by Alumnus Ken Williams through the Repurposing Club. The bill passed in the Student Senate last spring semester, but was vetoed by the former SGA president because he didn’t think it was well thought-out.
“It’s super important that he vetoed it. It reduced the cost. It helped us make it more efficient. It helped us get a federal work study. It helped us get the whole logistical side of it figured out, so thank God for that,” Gipson-Black said.
The bill was rewritten and passed with a smaller number of bins, and the money was placed in the Repurposing Club’s OrgSync account. Williams was the president of the club, but graduated before the money was used, so there was no way for the organization to withdraw the money.
SGA officials decided to let Young Democrats purchase the bins since the two groups co-authored the bill.
“We’re in it for the long run now because it’s an actual pilot program,” Gipson-Black said. “We’re going to have to transition the next administration on this as well to get them to understand the importance of continuing and being a steward to this kind of program.”
At the end of spring, a survey will be sent to those who had a recycling bin to gauge their usage. SGA officials want to see if students actually use the bins often and to assess its impact. After that, they may decide to extend the program to other dorms on campus.
The recycling bins are part of Gipson-Black’s Blue Initiative, a three-part plan to reduce waste and make campus more environmentally friendly. He said the three parts don’t just stand on their own but complement each other.
“The big thing to get started was the recycling bins. We’re like ‘well, we have this going for us, but we can always do more, we can always improve, we can always do better at recycling,’” Gipson-Black said.
The second part of the plan is buying more water bottle filler attachments for the water fountains.
“We’re going to try to overhaul that program and make sure each academic building and each residence hall has at least one on each floor,” Gipson-Black said. “But that might involve also buying new water fountains, which is not a problem at all.”
The price of a water bottle filler attachment is $700-$800, but facilities can get them for about $500, Gipson-Black said.
“The idea is to reduce the amount of bottled water students purchase, especially from the university, which would drive down the need for plastic recycling,” Gipson-Black said.
The third part of the plan is a water bottle campaign pilot program to further reduce the amount of plastic recycling.
“We’re going to go by the numbers of the vending machines that currently produce the least amount of revenue for bottled water and take it out of those places,” Gipson-Black said. “We’re going to try to leave at least one option available, but the idea is that students will go from buying bottled water to using the water bottle fillers.”
Gipson-Black said he wants to start announcing the three-part plan late this month or in early December.
“We’re almost done getting all that stuff in order to actually start saying ‘hey this is how we can do this, so let’s do it.’ Next semester is likely when we’ll roll this stuff out,” he said.
Laura Jardine, biology senior, said she hopes students appreciate the convenience of recycling and using reusable bottles once everything goes into effect.
“I’m so glad SGA is prioritizing minimizing OCU’s carbon footprint,” Jardine said. “If students want to begin to mitigate our changing climate, the best things we can do are to make every effort to go green on an individual level and support policies and politicians that look out for the environment.”