Group members throwing away old ideas about going green
By Eric Sarul
Photo by Eric Sarul
Amy Bare (left) and Janyne Little, both natural resources and environmental science majors, are part of Boiler Green Initiative, a student organization that promotes recycling and other green activities.
Purdue University has scrapped old habits to reduce waste and boost recycling, and students are leading the way. Janyne Little and Amy Bare are members of the Boiler Green Initiative (BGI), a student organization that promotes recycling and other environmental issues.
The two natural resources and environmental science majors said that recycling has always been important to them and that BGI is helping them make a difference.
Little, a sophomore from Munster, Ind., said she was raised to recycle. She credits her father for the values she shares with others today. "I guess he taught me that reusing is the thing to do, which is better than recycling anyway," Little said. "Nothing was ever thrown away. Everything was valuable."
Bare, a freshman from Rushville, Ind., also credits her family (especially her mother) for teaching her to value recycling.
Little applied what she learned at home long before she came to Purdue. When she was still in high school, she bought two large recycling bins for the school cafeteria and decorated them with flashy paints and catchy sayings. Her efforts paid off quickly.
"One student even started a recycling contest at lunch using the bins to see which lunch period could recycle the most," Little said. "If you give people the means to recycle, they usually will."
She brings the lessons she learned in high school to her efforts today. Little said that college students welcome new ideas about recycling and are doing their part to reduce personal waste. But getting people involved relies on doing the right thing first.
"It's vital that people set an example through their actions by recycling themselves, not just yell at others to recycle," Little said.
Bare favors a similar approach. She said that getting the word out is essential for changing recycling habits. "It's not that difficult to recycle on campus," Bare said.
Bare points out that since trash containers are now clearly labeled, there really is no reason for college students to turn away from doing the right thing.
So Bare and other BGI members rely on education — they will even use peer pressure. BGI members hold events where they scout out students caught "in the act of recycling." They have passed out free drinks and coupons to students who are seen reducing waste on campus.
For Little, Purdue's commitment to recycling is more than just another effort, or a specially labeled trash container. It strikes a personal chord.
"Since about 60 to 70 percent of waste is recyclable, this only makes sense," Little said. She admits that convincing others will remain their ongoing battle. But Bare is optimistic about their efforts.
"You can walk away knowing you did a good thing," Bare said. "If we take care of the environment, we're going to be overall healthier and happier people."