A simple act can change the world.Columbia College celebrates America Recycles Day on Nov. 15 with recycling posters, displays, information - and a graphic display of one month's worth of recycling thrown in the trash in the Atkins-Holman Student Commons.
The recycling display will be a large pen containing just 30 days of discarded containers, mostly plastic beverage containers, in blue city of Columbia, Mo., recycling bags. The event, first started in 1997, is a national day of recycling awareness sponsored by corporate and environmental entities to encourage Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. Event organizers say Columbia College's event is one of nearly 2,000 events nationwide.
Dr. Cheryl Hardy, professor of psychology and one of the event's organizers on the Columbia College campus, and Jennifer Mantler, student president of ECO Club, went into classrooms and pulled containers out of trash cans, emptied them, removed caps, counted, weighed and sorted them.
Hardy, who grew up in northern Ohio near then-toxic Lake Erie, says the display may be shocking, but that's its purpose. She says Columbia College is doing a good job of recycling, but could do better.
"People may not recognize the value of recycling," she says. "It's not just good for the environment, it's good for the economy. Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry that employs more than 1 million workers."
"I hope that through America Recycles Day we might increase knowledge about recycling benefits and motivate everyone to move to the next level,” Hardy added. There is an on-line pledge at www.kab.org that summarizes the event best: 'A simple declaration, a simple act. But it's one that has the power to change the world.' ”
'A simple declaration, a simple act. But it's one that has the power to change the world.'Columbia College is committed to being green with energy-efficient buildings, energetic recycling paper and aluminum can programs, using ground-source water for heating and cooling and is experimenting with tray-less cafeteria days because hands can’t carry as much food as trays.
These initiatives aren’t just about saving energy and money and reducing the college's environmental footprint. It’s about making the campus a livable, sustainable place for the future.
Hardy witnessed first-hand Lake Erie's decline and slow recovery.
"In the 1960s I learned to tell what direction was east not from nature signs like moss growing on trees but in looking to the horizon for the air pollution belched out from local steel mills, she says. "The sky was a dirty red, and when the particulates from the pollution rained down, it covered cars and houses with a toxic red dust. I also recall the concerns that Lake Erie was soon going to be a dead lake. The shoreline was littered with rotting fish. The smell was awful and the live fish contained mercury that made them unsafe for human consumption. I recall the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland catching on fire because of sewage and garbage floating in it."
The fire so embarrassed the nation that Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, significantly reducing dumping and runoff. Since the 1970s environmental regulation has led to a great increase in water quality and the return of economically
Columbia College and U.S. recycling factsheet
To learn more about Columbia College's green initiatives, go to www.ccis.edu/green.
For more about America Recycles Day, go to their Web site.