There is no shortage of clunky wooden desks and old mattresses that litter the curbsides of the Illinois State University Campus.

As the semester drew to an end, some 20,000 students packed up their lives and headed back to their hometowns for the summer, leaving the barren campus with nothing but traces of forgotten or useless belongings. Like children at play making a mess that someone else would have to pick up.

It’s hard to miss now, but this problem is one that doesn’t just occur every May or even just on this campus.

It’s happening everywhere and everyday as people lack the knowledge or interest to understand that there is a right and wrong way to recycle.

You may think that you are “doing your part” to help the damaged, beaten and abused Earth, but in reality you may be doing more harm than good.

Andrew Bennett, ISU Recycling Coordinator, said it best.

“There’s the recycling wannabes that think that everything can be recycled, things like plastic hangers or plastic bags. That’s the big thing that curbside (recycling) does not want,” said Bennett in an interview with WGLT.

But it’s not just curbside recycling. For years student housing has been left to their own defenses as no recycling services have been offered. This could be a main contributor to the biggest issue at hand – contamination.

Let’s break it down.

Similar to just about everything in life, recycling is first and foremost a business. There is time, money and resources invested in it which are being worn thin by ignorant recyclers.

Midwest Fiber Recycling is where Bloomington-Normal's recyclables, along with about 1 million other commercial and residential customers throughout Illinois, end up. When “recyclables” are sent to Midwest Fiber, they first go through a machine that sorts through them. Many of these items end up being pulled by workers that physically sort through them.

China even stopped accepting plastics from the U.S. because of contamination.

When customers are too lazy to clean out their containers or are just so careless that they think everything can be recycled, it costs the industry money and the Earth its beauty.

WGLT also spoke with Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch.

“Much of the material in your home, about 70 percent of what you take in can be recycled,” Karch told WGLT. “There really are a lot of opportunities if people are willing to put in that time to try and reduce the materials that go to the landfill.”

As the Town of Normal nears the August 2019 implementation of the ordinance to require apartments and other multifamily residences to provide recycling services, let’s remember that students were one of the biggest advocates for this action.

The desire to recycle is there, now there needs to be a motivation to do it right. For yourself, for the community and for the beautiful place that you are so privileged to call home – take care of it.

​Editorial policy is determined by the student editor, and views expressed in editorials are those of the majority of The Vidette’s Editorial Board. Columns that carry bylines are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Vidette or the University.

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