Faith Shin

Director of the Campus Environmental Center Faith Shin has been promoting an upcoming Earth Day carnival that will showcase what different organizations are doing to increase campus sustainability on April 22. 

Photo Credit: Pearce Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

There are two types of people on college campuses. The first frantically runs around campus picking up trash and ranting about the upcoming environmental apocalypse, clad in pants made out of recycled grocery bags. The second drags themselves out of bed at 12:30 p.m. and skips the confusing recycling bins for the ease of a trash can whose contents are destined for a landfill. 

“College students are lazy, it’s as simple as that,” Katherine Crawford, a dance freshman and Campus Environmental Center member, said, “If they have a soda can to throw away but the recycling bin is a few steps farther than a normal trash can, they’ll take the easy way out.”

Crawford believes the polar opposite priorities of college students in regards to sustainability prevent progress. She thinks the only time work gets done is when it is forced on students.

Faith Shin, director of the Campus Environmental Center, said sustainable living on campus is absolutely feasible. She said that over the years UT has made environmental progress readily available, especially in dining halls and waste management. More than anything, she believes celebrating Earth Day is the best way to promote environmental awareness.

The University of Texas will have many events to participate in for those students who are interested in environmental progress. Shin and the Campus Environmental Center have been promoting Earth Day all April by kick starting an “Earth Month” campaign.

Shin’s efforts are most focused on an Earth Day Carnival on April 22 which will span the length of Speedway.

“We hope to showcase what different departments and organizations are doing to increase campus sustainability,” Shin said.

To do this, Shin has collaborated with more than 20 campus organizations. She hopes to show that a large portion of the student population is unified in its efforts to save the environment. Each student group involved has prepared various activities to educate students on how to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability.

Shin and the Campus Environmental Center are currently building a bicycle-powered blender. They will have carnival visitors ride the bicycle and power the machine in order to receive the smoothie they want.

“Maybe by putting them through this manual labor of sorts, they will understand how much energy it takes to fuel even small household appliances, like a blender,” Shin said.

Earth Day was created in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. At the time, growing clouds of smog were not seen as an issue — it was a symbol of America’s growing prosperity. Senator Nelson decided that change was needed in our perception of environmental issues and used Earth Day to spur young people to make a new movement to save the planet.

Forty-three years later, Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries and brings together the environmentally conscious in one day of festivities.

“Today we are constantly bombarded with the decline of our environment,” Reed Sternberg, Austin Earth Day festival director, said. “Austin Earth Day is an opportunity to stop and celebrate the good stuff about the Earth.”

Shin believes the various events in Austin for Earth Day have the ability to unite the community and push them toward environmental progress.

“Students aren’t apathetic to sustainability, and I doubt that any one wants to harm the planet,” Shin said, “They just have to make the conscious effort to live ‘green.’”

College students’ active resolve is perhaps in question, but Shin believes UT will take the opportunity to do its part this Earth Day. Perhaps Monday’s festivities will convince lazy college students to take the extra step toward the recycling bin.

Alejandro Paredes, a member of the Engineers for a Sustainable World, discusses recycling of old computer parts with UT students during America Recycles Day. America Recycles Day brought together students from the Student Engineering Council, Engineers for a Sustainable World and various other student groups to teach people about different ways to recycle.
Photo Credit: Ben Chesnut | Daily Texan Staff

Students said no to electronic waste Thursday by recycling outdated devices in observance of America Recycles Day.

The Campus Environmental Center recognized the national holiday by hosting a recycling drive to collect students’ recyclable waste, including plastic bags, glass and electronics. Engineers for a Sustainable World, Engineering Council Sustainable Committee, the Office of Sustainability and the Division of Housing and Food Service set up tables at the event to collect specific items and educate students on the benefits of recycling.

The Campus Environmental Center hosts a recycling drive in honor of the holiday every year and focuses on a particular item to recycle each drive.

Hunter Mangrum, spokesperson for the Division of Housing and Food Service, said the division is working to help students become familiar with recycling electronic waste. Electronic waste bins will be placed in residence halls before the end of November, Mangrum said. He said in addition to encouraging students to recycle electronic waste, the division has made all recycling bins into single-stream collections that collect plastic, aluminum and compost. 

“The ultimate goal as a University is to empower students to take on the motto to change the world,” Mangrum said. “We hope that this will become the norm and that students will spread their education and environmentally conscious methods elsewhere.”

Psychology senior Faith Shin, director of the Campus Environmental Center, said the few places where electronic waste on campus can be recycled are often inaccessible to students. Shin said many students throw out their electronics because of this, resulting in a lifetime in a landfill and the leaking of toxic chemicals into water sources.

“Students consistently have to change out their electronics,” Shin said. “They typically change their cell phones every two years and their computers every three years. With this growing number, e-waste is becoming more of a problem on campus.”

According to the United Nations Environmental Program, an estimated 20 to 50 million tons of electronic waste is disposed of globally each year. Less than 20 percent of electronic waste worldwide is recycled, and 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste is exported to Asia, according to Do Something, an organization for social change.

Geography junior Reanna Bain, assistant director of the Campus Environmental Center, said the harmful chemicals electronic waste contains, such as mercury and lead, are detrimental to the water supplies of countries that receive U.S. electronic waste.

“E-waste is making whole countries into landfills of electronics,” Bain said.

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: E-waste added to recycling list 

Students getting rid of used items can consider contributing to a campus-wide drive that is looking for donations ranging from pairs of gently worn shoes to notebooks and household goods.

The eighth annual Trash to Treasure Donation Drive will begin today and run through May 15 on campus. Organized by the Campus Environmental Center, the drive will collect used goods, from apparel to houseware, at donation locations across campus for the fall 2012 Trash to Treasure garage sale.

Geography sophomore Reanna Bain, the coordinator for Trash to Treasure, said the goal of the drive is to divert waste that occurs when students move out of residence halls.

“It will prevent usable items from going to a landfill,” Bain said. “The project strives to recycle what others may consider to be trash and resell items in a campus-wide garage sale at the beginning of the school year where many students can’t believe the amount of treasures they find.”

Bain said all students are consumers and should be aware of the environmental impact they have when they buy new things and throw away items that can still be used.

“Our planet can only hold so many items and so many people think of  ‘throwing something away’ in an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ perspective,” Bain said. “In actuality, everything that we make, especially if it’s not biodegradable, is still on Earth. Therefore, it is wasteful for humans as a whole to create such large amounts of waste and not expect to face the consequences later.”

Psychology senior Faith Shin, outreach coordinator for Campus Environmental Center, said the advantage of this drive is the abundant potential for students to enjoy the used materials donated.

“The rising love for vintage and used goods makes this donation all the more relevant,” Shin said. “Students who partake in this drive as volunteers can see that the donations benefit a lot of people.”

Desired donation items include gently used clothing, shoes, electronics, household items and school supplies, she said.

“Keep in mind that items not allowed include children’s clothing, clothes or shoes with stains or holes, undergarments, swimsuits, personal care products or outdated electronics that are old or broken,” Shin said. 

Marketing senior Brittney Walls, event coordinator for the University Co-op, said they held the Duds for Discounts drive at the Co-op branch stores in late April. The two Austin locations, which collected an estimated 300 donations, gave those items to the Trash to Treasure drive.

“We were looking for charities to partner with in each city and since we’re right across the street from campus, what better way to give back to UT than through this drive?” Walls said. “We received some really nice men’s and women’s clothing that students would benefit from especially at such a low cost.”

Drive donation areas will include Jester East, Jester West, San Jacinto, Duren, Kinsolving, Whitis Court, Littlefield and Carothers residence halls.