Reusing and recycling done poorly at the College

Although it is now gone, I hope every student at the College had the opportunity to see the plastic water bottle sculpture outside of the Social Science Building.

The bottles were glued together in the shape of different sized circles and then placed on the lawn outside the building. The sculpture was on display from the end of October through the middle of November.

Although it may not have been an incredibly huge display, the goal of the project was to display the vast magnitude of plastic water bottles that are used once and then discarded on the College’s campus.

This project required the use of a few thousand bottles, and loyal Water Watch members were responsible for their collection. This was an interesting task, and I would like to share my personal experience with the campus community.

In order to collect bottles for the sculpture, I decided to make nightly sweeps of my sophomore residence hall and pick out the plastic bottles from the large bottles and cans containers on each floor. Because I am already a busy person, stopping off at one bin instead of going to individual dorm rooms just made more sense because it saved me time.

So yes, I am that girl you may have seen literally picking through the big blue bins on a nightly basis. Yes, I am that girl who started conversations with random people about recycling bottles, and, yes, I am that girl with a very kind roommate who allowed me to store gigantic, and sometimes multiple, bags of recycled bottles in our already cramped dorm room.

As I picked through these recycling bins, two detrimental points really came to my attention.

First, I noticed the contamination that was plaguing these recycling bins. In case you do not know, contaminating a recycling bin is just as bad as not recycling. When a bag of recycled materials is contaminated, it automatically gets put in the trash.

One of the most commonly mis-recycled items was Naked juice bottles. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but Naked juice bottles are not recyclable in the bottles and cans container. Ice cream cake boxes, construction boxes and paper coffee cups are among other items which cannot be disposed of in the blue recycling bins.

The only things that are permitted in a bottles and cans recycling bin at the College are bottles and cans that have a number one or a number two symbol on the bottom.

The second thing that I could not help but notice as I collected bottles was the sheer volume of the bottles themselves.

I easily filled at least one large bag of bottles every night, if not more. Some nights I could not fit all of the bottles from the seven floors in my building into a single bag. Keep in mind these bins are emptied on a daily basis.

In order to cut down on the amount of bottles that we, as a campus, waste, I strongly encourage students to look into purchasing a reusable bottle. Drinking from a reusable bottle is a sustainable and easy way to constantly have water with you.

I hope that this project impacted students and made them see that their individual decisions really do influence the campus as a whole.

For a complete description of the College’s recycling program guidelines, please visit:

For examples of reusable waterbottles, please visit: