The lack of a system for recycling, or even encouragement to do so, is causing a build up of recyclable trash throughout the area of the University of Missouri campus known as Greek Town.
Across a majority of campus, the landscaping department is charged with the task of handling the litter on the streets, except for game days when MU athletics takes over that job. The MU Sustainability Office assists in most efforts toward recycling throughout campus. They work with all educational and general buildings, except for buildings that make their own income, such as dorms and Greek houses.
“On campus we have each private is office receiving their own recycling bin and a smaller, attachable trash can,” said Hannah Peterson, sustainability assistant at MU Sustainability Offices. “The idea is that when you give somebody a larger recycling receptacle and a small waste bin they will rethink the way they throw away their waste.”
While some individual sorority and fraternity houses do have receptacles designated for recycling, there is no concerted effort to encourage the practice in Greek Town overall. That does not mean efforts have not been made over the years. Several students have come into the Sustainability Office motivated, yet the barriers of initiating recycling in Greek Town is difficult to overcome.
“If they do recycle, one barrier is money,” Peterson said. “They have to pay for a recycling container. A second barrier is who would take the recyclables out. Another barrier is education. Would people actually know what to recycle; how to recycle? So there’s lots of barriers yet there’s been interests, but little concerted effort.”
Most of the recyclables spewed throughout Greek Town are cans and bottles that previously contained alcohol, even though the university prohibits the ‘unlawful possession’ of alcohol. They are rarely picked up off the streets.
“It is hard to find one solution for that,” said Erin Stump, sustainability chair for Kappa Alpha Theta. “Mizzou has a service clean up once a year, and Greek Town should do their own version of that.”
The City of Columbia offers a trash and recycling option when disposing of waste that most Columbia homes and businesses participate in.
“Me and another girl tried to start up a Theta recycling program,” Stump said. “We learned other sororities have recycling. Most people have their trash picked up by the city of Columbia, and it was an easy switch to have recycling as well. It will most likely cost us less in the long run.”