Students for Environmental Awareness to conduct another waste analysis Wednesday.
By Wally Perez
The smell of rotten food, old coffee and fruit wafted around the mall Nov. 4 during a waste analysis to compare how much recyclable material ends up in campus trash cans.
The Students for Environmental Awareness walked around the mall to collect trash from the bins.
The SEA has been conducting the waste analyses every Wednesday since Oct. 21 to raise awareness about the importance of recycling.
Environmental science sophomore and SEA president Lisa Cervantes has led the movement with the idea of getting more recycling bins around campus.
Currently, recycling bins are located inside of buildings, but none are located outside.
“During our time gathering and recording our findings we’ve found that more than 50 percent of trash is recyclable,” Cervantes said.
Plastic containers, bottles, cans and paper were some of the recyclable materials found throughout the bins.
There are three R’s when it comes to recycling — reduce, reuse and recycle, she said.
Trash takes up space in landfills for hundreds of years before it decomposes. Recycling reduces the amount of wasted trash and allows us to reuse the materials, she said.
“If we can gain enough interest during our campaigns, then we can really show how important the subject of recycling is on this campus and possibly see change,” Cervantes said.
Environmental science sophomore Megan Kendrick and mechanical engineering sophomore Carmelo Serna Jr. have helped Cervantes collect and analyze items in trash cans.
The group had to watch their step Nov. 4 as liquids were poured out of cans and bottles and splashed by their feet.
As they sifted through the pile of trash, their faces contorted in disgust at the stench and sight of maggots.
“We haven’t seen maggots before so that’s a first,” Kendrick said.
“It’s a good thing we have gloves; the only bad thing is I’m afraid to touch anything else.”
During an analysis Oct. 28 in the mall, Cervantes and company collected a total of 35.5 pounds of garbage, with 21.5 pounds being recyclable, about 60 percent.
Garbage was also collected inside of Chance Academic Center with a result of 9 pounds total and 4.5 pounds being recyclable.
The group separates the trash and recyclables into two garbage bags, weighs them using two digital bath scales for accuracy and records the results.
Garbage included whole slices of pizza, fruit that had only one bite and drinks containing more than half of the liquid.
“We’ve collected a lot of wasted food along with the recyclable materials, and we only do this until noon,” Serna said. “You can imagine how much gets thrown away after lunch and towards the end of the day.”
After discussions with President Robert Vela, the group learned this college needs additional funding to pay for extra recycling bins and personnel to take care of them, she said.
“We’ve had presentations with Dr. Vela explaining the need for more recycling bins and from what we understand there is only one person who collects the trash throughout the week,” Cervantes said. “In order to get more bins on campus, we need to find a way to fit it within the budget.”
The SEA will host another waste analysis from 11 a.m.–noon Wednesday in the mall.
For more information, email Cervantes at firstname.lastname@example.org.