A dark, ominous column stands erect atop of a lonely hill, as the rain thunders down around it. This isn’t the introduction to the hottest noir novel of the year, but rather an apt description of a trash can located near Hope House.
In 2012, the Vermont legislature passed Act 148, known as the Universal Recycling Law. While this law bans the disposal of recyclables in normal trash cans, and will eventually require all people living within Vermont to compost their food waste, it has another condition which effects Castleton far more directly.
Under a specific subsection that took effect in 2015, all trash cans in outdoor public places must be paired with a recycling bin.
Over the last decade, Castleton University has made numerous strides to become a more environmentally friendly institution. Some of these include the installation of water bottle filling stations in most residence halls and the implementation of an environmentally friendly heating and cooling policy.
However, when it comes to recycling, there are still steps to be taken.
The trash can without a recycling bin, which under Act 148 is illegal, located near Hope House is but one of eight located on both the academic and residential sides of campus.
According to Victoria Angis, Assistant Director of Student Life, as far as she was aware the reason those trash cans are not paired with recycling bins was a cost prohibitive issue.
“I do know that I have seen outside trash cans without recycling and have given lists to facilities,” hoping that they would remedy the issue, she stated.
“It needs to be worked on,” said Senior Justin Goulet. “I think we have plenty of money to buy… [recycling bins] and we just don’t to spend it on things some people might see as a ‘waste of money’.”
While Castleton University does have a contract with Casella Waste Management, that contract does not obligate Casella to supply recycling bins, meaning that all recycling bins on campus must be purchased separately.
An estimate provided by facilities was that purchasing outdoor recycling bins would cost between $300 and $400 each.
A potential solution offered by Goulet was that the university “could even pull the trash cans from those locations until they had the funding to buy recycling bins to pair with them.” Junior Dustin Lewis disagreed.
“I don’t think removing trash cans is a solution. I’m not sure if there is a law or policy about how many trash cans you need per acre or something, but removing cans is just going to make students litter more,” he said.
Lewis was also surprised to find out there were so many places on campus where recycling bins were not paired with trash cans. He said that as a commuter student on his daily trips from the parking lot to Leavenworth hall he passes three or four recycling bins.
Breanna Morse, VP of Campus Activities Board, was equally as surprised to find out about the lack of recycling bins on campus.
“We are a green campus, and I think that we do pretty well elsewhere, so why not put [recycling bins] at the other eight spots that don’t have them.” While stating that the cost of recycling bins may indeed be prohibitive, it would be a much more worthwhile investment to buy recycling bins rather than trash cans. “I think recycling is more important than trash,” she stated.
“I think it's a failure on the college's part if they are trying to be a green campus that they are lacking some of the crucial parts of doing that, even something as simple as placing a recycling bin next to a trash can. If recycling bins are too expensive to buy, then you shouldn’t have a garbage can there,” said senior Morgan Hart who seemed deeply disturbed when she learned of the lack of recycling bins.