OPINION: Respect the green vests
Students for Sustainability members Sarah Bertram and Lia Ossanna collect trash and recycling from Spring Fling on April 10, 2016.
At large events, like Spring Fling, there is a lot of waste generated. But not all of it deserves a dead-end destiny in the landfill. Most of it could actually be diverted into compost or recycling. The only things that are true-blue garbage are usually straws (too small to recycle), utensils and Styrofoam.
Most paper-based plates, as well as all of the food scraps and napkins that may come with them can be composted. Most of the plastic bottles, cups and cans at events are recyclable. The liquid contents within can also be composted.
Even though most of us know that plastic water bottles could be, and should be, recycled does not necessarily mean they will be if some kind of trash patrol did not make sure it ended up in the recycling bin.
That’s where the green-vested Zero Waste Team comes in, to literally do the dirty work for you and sort every piece of “trash” to make sure it enters the clearly marked bin it belongs in.
You see them in the green vests, “guarding” the trash bins, just standing there, waiting for you to hand over the goods. The goods are your trash, by the way.
The Green Vests, composed of myself and many other student volunteers, Students for Sustainability and Green Team members, just want to make sure it ends up in the right bin, that is all.
Not so scary, yet a large majority of people seem to have an adverse, if not completely apathetic, reaction to these helpful folks.
Occasionally, they are going through one of the receptacles, picking a plastic fork out of the compost, or maybe pulling out a plastic water bottle from the trash.
You might think, “Quick! There’s my chance! I’m just gonna toss the stuff in my hand in the closest bin and speed walk away and hope they don’t notice.”
Sometimes you can even make it in the same bin they are sorting through. (Just ‘cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.)
Nevertheless, it happens. Oh yeah, leftover ketchup from the french fry plate you just tossed splatters up and paints the arm of the sorter. Not gonna phase a Green Vest at this point, as we pull it out and put it in the compost bin in stride.
But it would have been nicer if the trash tosser just took the initiative to do it the right way. I believe the will of the Green Vests is good and they don’t deserve to be unnecessarily splattered with ketchup or any other possible goop.
At Spring Fling, they are volunteers doing their part to work toward a sustainable future out of the kindness of their hearts and love for the planet.
The work is less than glamorous and largely unappreciated. Not that I’m calling for a Nobel Peace Prize for everyone in a green vest, but the least participants could do is help us by trying and letting the Green Vests guide them.
In a perfect world, individuals could hold themselves socially accountable for disposing of their waste. The first step is recognizing the significance of doing so.