Student Initiatives Help Increase Eastern’s Recycling Efforts
Eastern Oklahoma State College sophomores Rebecca Stewart (left) and Jamie Hicks recycle plastic bottles in the college’s new recycling trailer. Recent student-led initiatives have helped the college increase its recycling efforts.
A typical college campus generates a lot of trash. From old study notes and essay papers to empty soda bottles and moving boxes, the trash piles up every week at Eastern Oklahoma State College and other institutions around the country.
But thanks to recent student-led initiatives, Eastern is increasing its recycling efforts to become more environmentally friendly.
The recycling initiatives started last year when Eastern’s honors students were challenged to identify social issues that they wanted to address during the academic year. Ultimately, they chose to focus on an issue where they felt they could make the biggest difference.
“We chose recycling because it helps the environment that we live in,” said sophomore Reilly Cloud, honors program member and Eastern Student Government Association president. “If we don’t do something now, the problem will have expanded until it’s too big for one generation. We’re starting with one project and we hope to help change the world.”
The students did some initial research and met with representatives from the City of Wilburton and the Choctaw Nation to learn about their recycling programs. The group then met with Eastern president, Dr. Stephen Smith, to discuss their research, ideas and how the college could support their efforts.
“I appreciate the concern of our students in wanting Eastern to be an environmentally friendly institution,” Smith said. “In addition, we hope the recycling materials collected on campus will assist in supporting the recycling program sponsored by the City of Wilburton.”
Eastern purchased a recycling trailer to make it convenient for students, faculty and staff to dispose of large amounts of paper, plastic and cardboard on campus. The college also purchased small recycling bins for each campus building. All of the materials will be transported to the Wilburton Recycling Center for proper disposal.
The recycling initiative soon grew to include several other student organizations. The groups hosted an Earth Day carnival last spring to help raise awareness about the new recycling trailer and promote the college’s green efforts. In August, the honors program provided reusable, plastic cups with lids and straws to all students, faculty and staff for use in the cafeteria.
Ruth Askew-Brelsford, honors program coordinator, said she is pleased that so many Eastern students are aware of the future and concerned about how to do their part.
“Our students are concerned about issues such as recycling, climate change, the national debt and future employment opportunities,” Brelsford said. “I think it’s a mistake to believe that our young people are not concerned about the future. Yong people are much more aware of the bigger picture than we give them credit for.”