In efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of Whitworth University, facility services has provided faculty and staff with smaller, more sustainable trash bins. Hoping the new trash bins will reduce trash production, Facility Services Director Ed Kelly came up with the idea, which was put into action late August.
Standing less than a foot tall, the new trash cans are less than one-third of the size of the originals and sit on the tops of desks in offices across campus.
Jake Landsiedel, resource conservation manager, supports the new efforts to go green.
“It is a good visualization of how much trash one person should use,” Landsiedel said.
The new change is also an attempt to fill the need of a custodian spot lost due to budget cuts.
“We were looking for a way to keep the staffing we now have, but maintain the same standards,” Landsiedel said.
But not all faculty and staff members are in favor of the change.
“The size is kind of ridiculous; they definitely made their point,” Student Employment Manager Laurie Armstrong Sargent said. “If a student comes in upset and crying I have no place for them to throw their tissues away.”
Kim Connors, career services program assistant, wasn’t happy coming back from vacation to find her old trash bin gone. She found a new garbage can with a small note proclaiming the university’s desire to go green.
“They gave us no preparation. I just came back to that,” Connors said, pointing at the new trash bin sitting on her desk.
But the problem goes past just the container change.
“For me it was more of how they did it, not what they did,” Armstrong said, claiming facility services swooped in and switched the trash cans.
But Landsiedel said that in no way was facility services intending for the shock value the switch has caused.
“It just came down to timing,” Landsiedel said. “School was coming up so it was a good time for it.”
Although he hasn’t gotten many complaints personally, Landsiedel said the new garbage bins may not be permanent.
“We are using them on a trial basis,” Lansiedel said. “We will look for feedback, ask for responses.”
Although both Connors and Sargent admit the new garbage bins have raised awareness, they haven’t necessarily decreased the amount of trash they or fellow colleagues produce.
“I feel like I recycled anyways, but this is like forced recycling,” Sargent said
Connors wants to learn more about the university’s efforts on going green by being taught which items she is able to recycle.
“It would be nice to know what exactly we can recycle,” Connors said.
But Landsiedel said the majority of what faculty and staff members use while at their desks can be recycled.
“Most trash is paper, cans, bottles; most can be recycled,” Landsiedel said.
Another problem Sargent finds with the garbage cans is the inability to use a liner, preventing her from using her garbage to dispose of any food. Instead, after eating anything she said she has to walk outside her office to find a different trash bin.
While faculty and staff must get up and use out-of-office trash bins, it doesn’t force them to cut out much garbage. Many faculty and staff members, such as Connors, find that the change is simply an inconvenience.
“I just wonder how the reduction of waste data is being tracked,” Connors said.
Facility services is not monitoring the number of times faculty and staff members empty their trash bins, Landsiedel said.
Regardless, Landsiedel said he hopes that efforts to go above and beyond other universities, sustainability and the university’s commitment to reducing waste is seen by this change.
By Sydney Conner
Photo by Peter Landgren