Crowder recycling trend continues to spark interest

By Amanda Reese

 A walk down the south end of the 2nd floor of Newton Hall leads by a trash can once marked aluminum cans on the lid. In the past, the trash can was used to collect aluminum cans to be recycled.

However, the lid is now gone and so is the recycling sign. Currently the trash can is filling up with an assortment of trash, including aluminum cans and plastic bottles that will be thrown out as trash instead of being recycled.

In the past, different faculty, staff, and students have tried to implement successful recycling programs at Crowder, according to Russ Hopper, MARET center director. But these initiatives didn’t last.

“It is difficult for any community level college to sustain a recycling program,” said Hopper. “There is more of a student turnover rate at the community level.”

The high student turnover rate causes Crowder to lose its student workers quicker than a university would, according to Hopper.

“I had the opportunity to visit Truman State University,” said Hopper. “They had an [exceptional] recycling program; it is easier to keep a program going at a four year university than a two year college.”

Crowder has approached recycling programs from many different angles using student workers, clubs, and custodial workers to assist in the collection of material to be recycled, according to Mark Kalmbach, Director of Physical Plant.

“It was hard to have custodians pick up recycling on a regular basis,” said Kalmbach. “The custodians had assigned duties, and the unassigned duties like recycling didn’t always fit into the schedule. It was hit and miss.”

“One of the biggest issues is we don’t have one person designated as a recycling coordinator over the whole program,” said Kalmbach. “Like any program recycling takes money and personnel.”

Crowder has received grant money in the past to fund different recycling initiatives, according to Pamela Hudson, Director of Development and Grants.

“Most grants are intended to get a program started, not keep it going,” said Hudson. “The problem is recycling doesn’t pay for itself. Although there is a little bit of income, it isn’t enough to pay for personnel and expenses.”

Although recycling isn’t thriving at Crowder, it isn’t completely dead; paper and cardboard are being sent from campus to the Neosho recycling center, according to Kalmbach. A cardboard trailer is located behind the school cafeteria. The material to be recycled is gathered by department members, work study students, and custodians then taken to the trailer.

Crowder employees hope to see a greener Crowder. A meeting was held Oct. 5, in the MARET Center to discuss plans for a brand new Green Campus Initiative, according to Stacey Pugh-Towe, Crowder Biology Instructor. The goal of this initiative is to start campus-wide recycling.

“It isn’t just the MARET Center involved in this initiative,” said Hopper. “People all across campus are getting involved including: Stacey Pugh-Towe, Kevin Newby, Mike Jernigan, Judy Clark, and many others. I don’t want to leave anybody out; there is a lot of interest.”

“The plan is to start small and then eventually go campus wide,” said Pugh-Towe.

The first three building to take part in the Green Campus Initiative are the MARET Center, the Davidson building, and the Student Center, according to Pugh-Towe. Recycling bins will be set out to collect plastic and aluminum.

No grant funding has been provided for the Green Campus Initiative yet, but Crowder is looking into some possibilities, according to Hudson.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” said Hudson. “We could make recycling work financially if we added say $3 to every student fee, but we choose not to do that. We are looking for other options to help fund some of the big equipment.”

Currently, the MARET Center has provided funds for itself and the Student Center, according to Pugh-Towe. The money contributed by the MARET Center was used to purchase recycling containers for both the MARET Center and the Student Center.

“The MARET Center is set up and ready to recycle now,” said Pugh-Towe.

The recycling containers for the Davidson Building will be funded by the Biology Department, according to Pugh-Towe.

It will be difficult to sustain a recycling program at Crowder, according to Hopper. But those involved in the Green Campus Initiative are discussing ideas and ways to make it work.

“We really want to see this happen,” said Pugh-Towe.

Recycling hasn’t been a success at Crowder, according to Kalmbach. But despite the past, Crowder employees still want to see it become successful.

“Recycling isn’t worth it financially,” said Kalmbach. “But you don’t do it for the financial gain. You do it for the greater good. Another thought, how many things do we do in life, not for the financial gain, and they end up being the most rewarding,” said Kalmbach.