Caught Green-Handed

A new on campus recycling initiative will reward students who use recycling bins.

Orange may be getting some hype lately, but green is really the new black.

Despite the numerous labeled recycle bins scattered all over Temple campus, waste still ends up in all the wrong places. A seemingly simple concept is continuing to be ignored by students.

Temple’s Office of Sustainability has come up with a new incentive to fix the problem: the Caught Green Handed campaign.

Instead of berating all the perpetrators, students who are caught putting their trash in the appropriate bin will receive a prize. It will be a week-long campaign with one lucky winner chosen each day, in effect Sept. 16-20.

“We wanted something that would be fun for students that could encourage them to use the recycling,” Kathleen Ament, a junior environmental studies major, said. “A lot of times when you try to have a very specific event, you might not get as wide of an audience as you could with a program like this.”

The coordinators of the campaign will stop each person chosen and explain the program to them while demonstrating the new recycling bins. After being thanked for their consideration of the environmentally-friendly amenities, students will receive a free shirt bearing the logo of the Sustainability Office.

The campaign was initially launched to raise awareness of the new recycle system on campus. Instead of having a separate can for paper, plastic and other trash, one bin is now in place that can take all recyclables. Rather than remove the old ones and buy new ones, the old cans have been kept and the labels were changed.

Instead of having each one specify the kind of recyclable items it takes, all of them are now simply labeled “recycle.”

“It’s to decrease confusion,” Ament said. “A lot of kids go to throw things out and can’t figure out which bin to throw it in because it has both plastic and paper on it. They end up just throwing it anywhere. You’ll see it on the floor, in the grass and even around the trashcan. Now all recyclables go into one bin and are separated later.”

Even though the program is geared toward Temple students, if a chosen recycler is simply from the community, they still receive the shirt. The goal is to make everyone at Temple, both students and visitors, aware of the new recycling efforts being made by the university.

With this new recycling program, it costs less per ton to remove recycling than it does to remove waste from the campus, giving the university an opportunity to use the funds more effectively.

Ament believes many students don’t see the value of their individual efforts.

“A lot of people believe that their contribution on a small scale doesn’t really make a difference,” she said. “They figure that the one bottle that goes in the wrong place won’t make a true impact on any recycling or waste disposal problems.”

She said that, in reality, trash that is disposed of correctly or incorrectly directly affects the cleanliness of the campus.

The campaign was an idea created by a team of students and Temple faculty in the Office of Sustainability. The purpose of it was to educate Temple students about recycling through rewards.

The Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 as an effort to create a greener campus and promote environmental care. All of its campaigns and projects are funded by the university, and collaborations are made with other offices and organizations to advance these efforts.

The campaign is being promoted all across the campus by flyers hung in various buildings and dorms. It has also been endorsed on the Office of Sustainability’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and details are featured on their website.

Hend Salah can be reached at

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