Adam Mitchell could not believe what he was seeing. He walked around with a garbage bag, picking up piece after piece of trash sitting on the grounds of Castleton University’s campus. He picked up empty bottles he assumed were from partiers walking back to campus.
He noticed the recycling bins just a short distance away.
“It is quite sad to see all the trash on campus as a result of the Castleton students,” Mitchell said. “It’s sad that they don’t respect the campus at all.”
He and other members of Castleton’s chapter of Back Hunters and Anglers, a national organization that supports hunters and anglers and promotes conservation of public lands, set out to clean up both the campus and the Glen Lake Trail area last month. The students picked up multiple tires and 13 26-gallon bags of trash between the two lands.
Three of those bags were filled by trash found on campus, a reality that saddened Mitchell. And he is not the only Castleton student familiar with seeing trash on the campus grounds.
“I’ve definitely seen a lot of trash around campus, especially after the weekends when people tend to go out,” said junior Julie Leppo. “It’s sad because people just don’t care.”
Maria Page, vice president of the Student Government Association, agrees that students need to do more to maintain campus.
“I think as part of the Castleton Way we should take pride in the cleanliness of our campus — 78 gallons of trash is a lot. It’s amazing what just a day’s worth of work can accomplish,” she said.
But Mitchell said the worst part is just a week after the campus clean-up, “it was just as bad.”
Just one day after picking up campus, the Back Hunters and Anglers club moved to Glen Lake to continue their initiative. Mitchell said the dirt road and main parking areas of Glen Lake looked “pristine,” but not when you look a little deeper into the woods.
“There’s a lot of just throwing garbage on the side of the road. People actually throw their trash bags into [the woods],” he said. At one point, one of the other students with Mitchell picked up two full bags of garbage out of the ditch alone.
“It was horrible,” Mitchell said. “If you look with a critical eye into the woods, it’s trashed.”
Keeping the public lands clean is not something that should be difficult, according to Leppo. She said it’s all a matter of taking the second to find a trash or recycling bin.
“If we all just stop to throw something away and not on the ground, that would make things a little bit greener,” she said.
Mitchell hopes the amount of trash pulled from both Glen Lake and the campus will send a message to Castleton students and the Castleton Community. Page is proud of the work they’re doing representing the college.
“I’m hoping that the BHA club can continue bringing awareness to environmental issues of all kinds. These efforts are prime examples as to why clubs are the heart of Castleton University,” she said.
The Back Hunters and Anglers are hoping to do more public clean-ups when spring comes around next year, according to Mitchell.
“We have to try to conserve our environment. It’s not going to be gorgeous just because it is. We have to work to protect it,” he said. “Leave no trace.”