A tightly bound pile of cardboard appeared on the John P. Monahan Plaza last week in an effort to help raise recycling awareness.
As part of the RecycleMania competition, the UST Sustainability Committee put the cardboard bale outside the Anderson Student Center.
It’s the university’s fourth year in the competition, and Coordinator of Recycling and Central Receiving Bob Douglas said he hopes the bale will make the competition more popular around campus.
“The more people recycle, the better we come out in the ratings,” Douglas said.
St. Thomas is currently ranked 139th among the 263 schools entered in the competition. The university fell 19 spots since March 6 when it was ranked 120th.
Senior Jesse Stock, Green Team co-president and chair of the Sustainability Committee, hopes the bale will help students become more aware of their actions.
“The hope would be that students become more consciously aware of their waste and their recycling, and what can be recycled and what cannot be recycled. Cardboard, for the most part, can be recycled,” Stock said.
To create more of a buzz around the bale, Douglas decided to let students submit guesses as to how much the bale weighs. The winner receives $50 to the Tommie Store. Douglas said between 19-21 students have sent in their guesses this past week.
But even with the incentive, students aren’t getting the message. Sophomore Luke Adams said he was confused about the random pile of cardboard.
“I have absolutely no idea what that (cardboard bin) is for,” Adams said. “It could be for helping out recycling, like ‘we should all start recycling’ or ‘let’s all just board up giant boxes of wood and throw them outside our house’ … it just doesn’t have a clear message.”
Adams also said the $50 giveaway seemed like a waste of money.
“I just don’t see the purpose of that,” Adams said. “To say, ‘hey, we have people recycle a lot?’ What’s the purpose of having people guess? To have another random giveaway of student tuition dollars?”
Junior Mary Rogers also said the bin confused her, and that it wouldn’t get her to recycle.
“I honestly didn’t even know there was a cardboard pile. At least it didn’t stick out enough to ever grab my attention.” Rogers said. “It seems like a stupid way to make me recycle.”
Sophomore Devon Quist said the pile is an “eyesore.”
“The biggest initiative this makes me want to take to recycle would be to get the five closest people and get that eyesore off our campus,” Quist said.
Whether students like the bale or not, recycling cardboard does have its benefits. Douglas said two tons of cardboard is worth anywhere from $60-$90.
“We’d rather bale it and take it across the freeway to Rock Ten and get money for the bale instead of paying the hauler to haul it away… where it goes into a landfill,” Douglas said.
Douglas said the bale will most likely be taken down Tuesday.
Alison Bengtson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.