Every day, the average American produces more than four pounds of trash, which means that over the course of a single year, every one of us is responsible for adding almost a ton of waste to our nation’s landfills. Although Americans make up only five percent of the world’s total population, we are responsible for creating 30 percent of the world’s trash.
The reason why each one of us creates as much waste as we do is that our society has an obsession with throwing things away. In recent years, companies have gone out of their way to create an increasing amount of products that are designed to be used once. Our culture has an obsession with renewal, especially around this time of year, as the weather improves a cultural movement geared toward getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. A flurry of spring cleaning events during these first warm days of April encourage us to embrace the warmth and start anew by disposing of the old. What is the point of disposing of an item if it can be used again? The American culture places a very low value on the importance of reusing, reducing or recycling unwanted goods and this has caused our society to become socialized to throw things away whenever possible.
What can one single student do to help create a societal shift in the way we conceptualize trash? When you moved off campus last year, you contributed to generating enough trash to fill six additional 30-yard dumpsters during move-out week. Every year, usable items are thrown into the trash, so this year, “think globally, act locally,” and participate in an upcoming on-campus event titled “Dump and Run.”
This annual event takes place during move-out week and seeks to raise awareness about how much reusable stuff ends up in landfills. The program accomplishes this goal by providing means for students to donate their unwanted goods to charity. Donating unwanted goods is a great way to benefit your local economy and society because it keeps a greater amount of goods out of landfills, saves the College money and provides items to people who can benefit greatly from them.
The Bonner Center, as well as the College’s faculty, staff and students have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to coordinate this year’s event. Collection boxes will be set up in the lobbies of Travers Hall, Wolfe Hall and Cromwell Hall from Monday, May 4 through Thursday, May 7.
If there is a great deal of success with this year’s program, the committee will look to expand the scope of next year’s collection to include various other locations on campus. Some acceptable items include non-perishable, unopened food, sports equipment, clothes, working electronics and household items. Please visit the College’s Recycling Program Web site at www.tcnj.edu/recycle for a complete list of accepted items.
Although our society as a whole may not yet fully embrace the ideas of reducing, reusing and recycling, each of us can do our part to go green by donating unwanted and gently used goods to the Dump and Run program and reducing our individual trash output.
When you move out, remember not to throw it out: donate it.