UST Sustainability Committee puts pile of cardboard outside Anderson Student Center

By , Reporter  |  Tuesday, March 19, 2013 5:59 PM

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.

As part of RecycleMania (a national competition) a bale of cardboard with a $50.00 incentive sits outside of the Anderson Student Center's Monahan Plaza. (Alison Bengtson/TommieMedia)

A cardboard bale sits outside the Anderson Student Center. The UST Sustainability Committee put the bale there in hopes of raising recycling awareness. (Alison Bengtson/TommieMedia)

“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

This item was posted in News and has 7 comments so far.


  1. Bob Douglas
    Mar. 20, 2013 2:56 PM

    I’m saddened that the thirty minutes I spent talking with Alison on the phone and in my office yesterday was used to present a negative article on efforts by the Recycling Team and the USG Sustainability Committee to promote student participation in Recyclemania. No “random tuition dollars” were used for the $50 prize. It was funded by recycling rebates received by the Recycling Team for their recycling efforts. The 1,020 lb “eyesore” in the middle of Monahan Plaza that some claim they didn’t even see and others thought they could remove with a few friends is the result of all that packaging needed for student activities, printed materials, clothing, snacks, and food expected by students for their convenience & tuition dollars. But cardboard doesn’t vanish when the boxes are emptied or the plastic bottle is emptied or the paper is read and trashed. It has to go somewhere. We promote recycling so that less goes into a landfill, an increasing cost and enviro-hazard for all taxpayers. It also happens to be good stewardship, something that is a UST priority. Since this is the second critical article in the past month we have received for our attempts to promote recycling efforts at St. Thomas, I have to question the reporters’ agenda and the type of journalism promoted by TommieMedia. Looking for controversy to “sell” a story is what I would expect from Fox News, but not from well educated TommieMedia reporters.

  2. Paul Hietpas
    Mar. 21, 2013 8:37 AM

    Well said Mr. Douglas. Had the reporter interviewed one of the student recycling team members, she would have found boundless positivity and enthusiasm which exemplifies our university’s mission, “to educate students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”

  3. Trina Sturlaugson
    Mar. 21, 2013 1:43 PM

    I too am saddened by this article. However, it does make a good point: Too many people don’t understand what happens to their packaging after their use it. Perhaps a follow-up article should be done showing students what they CAN DO to help, instead of pointing out how much they don’t know. Write an article to help illustrate a solution to this issues we are facing. The world won’t last forever and resources are limited in their ability to regenerate. By recycling, we are saving on the creation of new materials and cutting back on usage of fossil fuels to create new products. An article informing students on how they can CHANGE the world and help make it a more SUSTAINABLE place would have been a better direction to take instead of criticizing the signage and display by recycle-mania. The comments from students would have been better used as private suggestions to the Green Team for better signage on the bundle than in a public news article.

  4. Alexandra Massart
    Mar. 21, 2013 4:06 PM

    This article in no way reflects the opinion of Alison.  She is only relaying information and the opinions of the student body.  Clearly the student body does not find the cardboard bail an effective way to promote student recycling.  

  5. Mary Rogers
    Mar. 21, 2013 5:28 PM

    This article balances quotes from both staff and students and just because the student’s quotes are negative shouldn’t drive you to question the “agenda” of Alison. I know that Alison personally interviewed seven students trying to get the best sample of the St. Thomas student body possible and the fact that all the comments were negative is not her fault. As one of the students interviewed, I stand by my opinion that this was not the best attempt of faculty to encourage students to recycle. I understand that the Recycling Team and the USG Sustainability Committee are trying to draw attention to an admirable cause that should be taken more seriously, however, don’t get upset when your attempts don’t draw the desired attention.

  6. John Dodd
    Mar. 22, 2013 9:51 PM

    I personally feel that the article embraced the opinion of the students interviewed and to the point by Alexandra and Mary, let’s not be quick to convict TommieMedia.  I don’t believe it was Alison’s intent to present negative light on the topic, but to simply report on the student response.  Perhaps Bob/Paul/Trina should spend the time gaining student input, you might gain interesting insight on their perspective on the environment compared with their thoughts on the debris placed on the Anderson Student Center .  The students interviewed likely have a strong environmental position, but maybe you missed the mark on eliciting their enthusiasm.  Let’s not convict the messenger, let’s work together to find the best ways to keep our environmental stewardship in mind.

    Additionally, TommyMedia is a university affiliated news source and are reporting factual information obtained by their staff.  They don’t have an agenda, they are trained to have a neutral position and report on their findings. Let’s respect what they are trying to accomplish.  

    Is there a possibility that the pallet of debris wasn’t the best way of conveying the message vs Alison’s report on the outcome?  I think it’s worth questioning.

  7. Trina Sturlaugson
    Mar. 29, 2013 12:45 PM


    I am a student… I guess my input doesn’t count? 

    I pointed out in my response that:

    I too am saddened by this article. However, it does make a good point: Too many people don’t understand what happens to their packaging after their use it. Perhaps a follow-up article should be done showing students what they CAN DO to help, instead of pointing out how much they don’t know. 

    Perhaps the negative comments were because students didn’t have a clear understanding of the point Recyclemania was trying to make. Because it was clear in this article that students didn’t have a clear understanding of Recyclemania’s purpose, I simply suggest it might be nice for TM to do a follow up article illustrating the ways students can help and what Recyclemania really is. Perhaps that would encourage students to become more involved. 

    Alison’s article was very well done, and I am in no way putting down her writing. However with her being a journalist, I would urge her to explore further when something emerges as she is putting together the article. All the negative comments could mean a new story for TM! Why are students speaking negatively? Do they have reason to or are they just misunderstanding the purpose of Recyclemania? It’s a good opportunity to tease it out. 

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