In recent years, Texas Tech has taken strides towards sustainability. One of the easiest ways students can participate on campus is by recycling.
“It’s a great place to build good habits,” Carey Hewett, director for Services and Tech campus sustainability officer, said. “If we can provide the opportunity to do recycling here on campus, that’s a life skill some students might not have picked up at home.”
Several avenues to a more sustainable college lifestyle exist, Hewett said. Walking to class, using the Lime scooters or using public transportation, such as the campus buses, are ways to reduce one's carbon footprint at Tech.
Those off-campus can collect their recycling and bring it to the recycling center, Hewett said. City locations for recycling are also available.
“To be honest, college students today are much more aware of recycling practices and sustainability practices,” Hewett said.
Tech’s sustainability program is growing exponentially, Hewett said.
The transportation department even repairs and resells bicycles that have been abandoned on campus to add to the recycling efforts, Hewett said. In addition, Red Raider Shred, a recycling program for paper, is approaching 1 million tons of recycled paper since it was started.
Recycling containers at the recycling center are available to students and the citizens of Lubbock, Hewett said. It is the center for a lot of sustainability efforts seen on campus.
“It takes a lot of people to make that work,” Hewett said.
Last year, the recycling center processed 846 tons of recyclable materials, Lynn Thurston, a senior advisor for Tech Housing, said.
The recycling center wants to find ways to help students engage in sustainability efforts, Thurston said. The center does not receive a lot of volunteer work from the student body.
“You could look at it a different way: everybody that puts something in a recycle can is voluntarily doing it,” Thurston said. “People do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
Student engagement does increase during events such as RecycleMania, Thurston said. But, those at the recycling center would love more participation from students through volunteering.
All the money that the recycling center makes gets invested back into the students through scholarships, Thurston said. Last May, they awarded $50,000 in scholarship money. In total, they have given back about $225,000.
Although many students participate in recycling in some form, some are not aware that the recycling center has an option for volunteering.
“Trying to find economic ways to reuse things is an amazing thing to do,” Christina Rankin, a senior journalism major from Hobbs, New Mexico, said.
To increase student engagement, the recycling center should try enticing students to participate, Rankin said. Other than the obvious ethical reasons, they should find and promote reasons that students should care more about recycling.
If students were to volunteer, they would be sorting through recyclable materials, such as paper and plastics, Melanie Tatum, the assistant director of sustainability and warehouse operations at the recycling center, said.
To reach the maximum potential of the center, more man-power is needed, Tatum said. One event the center would like to send volunteers to is RaiderGate, where they can pick up the excess of recyclables produced by tailgating students.
Overall, Tech is continuing to take steps to a more eco-friendly campus.
“We can be proud of the sustainability efforts going on at Texas Tech,” Hewett said.