If you’re a student at Penn State, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the multitude of waste bins on your daily commute — some for compost, some for metals, some for trash. Perhaps in your first few weeks at school, you actually found the whole ordeal to be a bit obnoxious — after all, why should students have to stop in their tracks just separate two types of plastics? What’s the real difference?
The truth is that when you have a student body of more than 40,000, even the smallest efforts to recycle make a major difference. That’s why Findlay Commons in East has taken various steps to make being environmentally friendly on a college campus a whole lot easier.
Findlay underwent its fair share of reconstruction projects over the past few months — the university replaced our beloved Big O and the entire dining commons got a thorough makeover. One of Findlay’s most prominent changes also includes a stronger initiative to make the whole place more eco-friendly thanks in part to Eco-Reps, the student-run division of housing. Eco-Reps has worked within East for the past three years, and the division typically focuses strictly on setting up recycling challenges and informing students about the benefits of recycling. However, with the re-opening of Findlay’s All-You-Care-to-Eat buffet, Eco-Reps and Campus Dining have been working together to make the commons more environmentally friendly as a whole.
One of the most prominent changes is the removal of trays from the buffet section. Now, students simply leave their leftovers on trays after they finish each meal instead of grabbing a tray and piling as much food as they can before they eat. According to Eco-Rep coordinator Roni Joyce, “A trayless system helps students to take less food and therefore waste less. It also helps to cut down on the dishes which need to be washed. Students technically have the option to go trayless in all of the dining commons, but East was hoping to take away trays completely.”
Unfortunately, Findlay has experienced a few bumps in the road while attempting to implement the new trayless system. The slight downside of the new set-up is that students now have to leave the dining area in order to throw away extra food, which complicates the process. However, Findlay is currently working to resolve this issue and make the appropriate changes to the system.
Some other notable initiatives include additional compost bins for waste and an effort to get students to start using Green-to-Go containers more often instead of styrofoam for takeout. But perhaps the most important change is Findlay’s removal of the regular vs. miscellaneous plastic waste receptacles — this slight shift makes it easier for everyone to understand where to throw out his/her trash. Eco-Reps have been instrumental in helping develop and institute these new changes to make the commons a bit more eco-friendly. Their efforts haven’t gone unrequited either — last semester, they saw a substantial increase in the rates of recycling throughout the residence halls as a result of their efforts.
There’s no doubt that Findlay’s transformed in the past year, but there’s more to the revamp than meets the eye. This new push to be more sustainable has left Findlay looking pretty good — and environmentally friendly.