St. John’s takes steps to increase recycling

In celebration of Earth Day, St. John’s University launched a new Web site to announce the enhancements made to its recycling program.

Although the program first began in 2002, the University has recently set up new requirements and has hired student “sustainability coordinators,” who will help to survey the campus and prepare new recycling containers for placement in areas in need of a more vigorous recycling program.

According to Thomas M. Goldsmith, director of Environmental and Energy Conservation for the Department of Facilities Services at St. John’s, the new containers and sustainability coordinators are the first step towards making recycling “part of the campus culture.”

In the past three weeks, said Goldsmith, 300 new recycling containers were made available on the Queens campus, and he hopes to bring another 200 to distribute between the Manhattan and Staten Island campuses. The new black and red containers have been clearly marked to distinguish between mixed paper, plastic, metal and glass.

Other materials that are currently being recycled on campus include cardboard, scrap metals, plastic containers, batteries, fluorescent lamps, computer monitors, printer cartridges, and some furniture.

Goldsmith is currently working with Residence Life to promote recycling in the residence halls, where he hopes that recycling will be expected of all resident students.

Goldsmith is also implementing guidelines for office recycling, but the new bins and the sustainability coordinators offer an opportunity for students to contribute to the cause.
For junior Kara Montalbano, the move towards more effective recycling could not come any sooner.

“More students are becoming aware, and more administrators and faculty will realize [recycling] is not just political, it’s a personal issue,” Montalbano said. “When we see faculty wasting paper and not recycling, how does it influence us as students when New York City is going green?”

Though St. John’s announced its participation in Mayor Bloomberg’s challenge to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent in 10 years last August, the endeavors of the new recycling program are not directly related to the mayor’s initiative.

“Recycling and other things like paper reduction, and purchasing green products are related to reduction of the university’s secondary carbon footprint. [The Mayoral Challenge] is focused on direct carbon footprint reductions,” Goldsmith said.
“Yet some students do not feel that the presence of recycling bins alone is enough to encourage the St. John’s community to become involved.”

Junior Patrick Lyons said that he feels on-campus recycling should be more heavily implemented on campus.

“I see people using the recycling bins but its not enforced,” he said. “It’s not good that kids don’t know how important it is.” He added, “They should put more signs up.”

However, some students choose to remain optimistic.
“It is a great step towards going green,” said Mujeed Unnisa, a third year pharmacy student.

Goldsmith is aiming to garner more student involvement by the start of next semester. For instance, he is considering taking the regular garbage cans out of classrooms, as most of the materials thrown into the cans are recyclable.

Students would be offered the opportunity to make the decision to recycle those materials by placing them in their appropriate bins.

To implement such proactive changes for the students, Goldsmith plans on surveying students and informing them by offering more events as well as training in the dorms.