Flawed recycling system disorients students

Abbey Fernandez, Web Opinions Editor

Let me paint a scene for you:

It’s Friday morning. I’m in Lang and my teacher prints out a New York Times op-ed that she thought the class might enjoy.

Right as she begins handing them out, a hand ferociously shoots up, “Will we be tested on this?!”

“No,” the teacher sighs.

Fast-forward forty minutes, and after a fascinating class discussion of healthcare, the bell sounds and it is time for period one. But first­–

Remember how the teacher said we wouldn’t be tested on this article?

Naturally I decide there’s no use cramming it into my overflowing folder. That’s right, I’m tossing it. Better yet, I’m recycling it.

Or, at least, so I thought.

As I head out the door, I turn to toss the New York Times article in the recycling bin, only to find two disheveled bins of absolute chaos.

One blue bin has its bag misaligned and there’s a half-eaten cafeteria muffin and an empty Minute Maid bottle. There is also some chewed gum and what appears to be a nibbled blue pen cap. Horrified by this mess, I turn toward the other blue bin, only to find that it’s worse. Tons of loose leaf “fredges,”  (my term for the frilly edges you rip off when the sheet is from a notebook), some magazine clippings, a coffee cup, and a broken pencil, which is not even a Ticonderoga one.

Suddenly, I start sweating bullets, and my eyes rapidly move from one messy bin to the other. Which bin do I use? It’s a matter of picking my poison at this point. Or do I save the article and recycle it in another more suitable location?

I quickly glance up. Three minutes of passing time are gone. Two to go. Students begin to enter the classroom. Oh no, now the teacher. Are they judging me? I swear, I know how to recycle…Right?

So in a moment of sheer panic I toss the sheet into the normal trashcan.

It was a weak moment.

Now I’m sweating, running late, being judged and polluting all at the same time. How’s that for multitasking?

This unfortunate scene has happened to me almost every time I try to recycle something at Staples.

What is up with the inability to properly use recycling bins in this school?

When it comes to those relatively simple blue bins, peoples’ haphazardness causes aspiring environmentalists like me to be utterly perplexed every time I try to recycle.

What’s so hard to understand? Empty cans and bottles go in one, and plain paper goes in the other. Seems simple enough, right? If we just misuse those bins, what’s the point in even having them? You might as well just bury plastic water bottles right into the ground or sprinkle cans straight into the ocean.

PSA to anyone using the blue bins for trash disposal: please throw the proper item into the proper bin because those bins are there with the intention that they’ll be used appropriately; plus you can prevent people like me from sweating, running late, being judged and polluting all at the same time.