Located in north Salem, Chemeketa Community College enrolls about 50,000 people in classes and workshops every year. Each term there are about 5,000 students on campus full-time. Ranging from recent high school grads to grandparents, full-time or part-time, the "typical" Chemeketa student is not typical. One thing we all have in common, however, is our propensity to consume. We're buying coffee, books, paper, pens, sodas ... occasional test copies (not moi, of course) ... like crazy. I don't know if studying makes us ravenous or if it's more like getting something to drink gives us a chance to avoid studying. Either way, Chemeketa's four cafeterias and the bookstore do quite the business!
As a Chemeketa student, watching my world with a 'green-eye' (environmental consciousness), I couldn't help but feel pangs of responsibility as I saw can after hundredth can go into the trash. There hasn't been a reliable recycling alternative. Literally tons of juice bottles and paper have been "trashed" over the years at Chemeketa.
Last spring I began to ask "Hey, is there any place to recycle this?" I got some yes's, some no's, found some bins, left some stuff, and noticed it was still there three weeks later. Hmm... I said, "This system isn't really working."
I began to formulate my own vision of a recycling system at Chemeketa. It evolved with the help of Dan Donaldson (campus maintenance and grounds coordinator), plus what I call a "western woman's perseverance (i.e. you just don't stop 'til you get the job done)." I visited Willamette's campus and got the grand "tour de waste" from David Larmouth, their recycling coordinator, who deserves a real hats off! In 1996, Willamette recycled 80.68 tons of paper, earning $1,227.56. (Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity, 9.9 cubic feet of landfill space, 60 pounds of air pollutants, and 380 gallons of oil!) David gave me some great ideas, encouragement and resource guides.
National Wildlife Federation provided me with information from their Campus Ecology program, dedicated to helping make campuses green nationwide. I used their facts to make a proposal: "See Mr. Donaldson, everybody else is doing it, we should too!" Basically, that was my plea.
The proposal was for two Recycling Stations on campus. Located on the ground floors in Bldg. 2 and Bldg. 3, the centers would house bins for white paper, office paper, mixed, glass, aluminum, newspaper, magazines and some cardboard. I suggested that the program be run from two fronts, the student government and facilities.
"The key to a successful program is a concerned and informed campus population-from there, the sky is the limit," says David Larmouth. I agree. Key to the program's success is environmental education. I asked student government to incorporate in their Campus Issues position recycling and environmental awareness responsibilities, and allow work study funds to pay for a full-time Environ-Aide. This lucky, enthusiastic person has the opportunity to coordinate the promotions for the center, the 'why's' and 'hows,' plus be responsible for student volunteers who update the environ-factoid bulletin boards, conduct demos and generally spread good (green) will. These volunteers will come in droves, (especially towards the end of the quarter), from Chemistry and Biology instructors who're happy to allocate extra credit points to recycling volunteers.
The "down to earth" job of sorting and moving materials would be handled by a work-study student under the supervision of the facilities department. This could all be designed over the summer and ready to implement by Fall Term, '97. 'And did I mention, Mr. Donaldson, that I need a part-time job on campus this summer? I'll set it up, make it just cookie-cutter easy for the next person! Whadda ya think?"
Well, they thought it was a great idea! Turns out everyone's been feeling a little guilty about the recycling issue. Now I get a chance to handle the waste just as I've always dreamed! I can then move on to even bigger dreams. "Don't you think we should have an Environmental Learning Center at Chemeketa, complete with a wetland area, birds of prey exhibit and observatory, Mr. Berger (college president)?... Everybody else is doing it... hee, hee, hee" (well, it worked once).
Jennifer Fanyak is the new, full time Environ-Aide at Chemeketa Community College, and was recently chosen to receive a full ride scholarship to Willamette University.