Recycling efforts at ACU have been inconsistent over the years since the university lacks any institutional policy on recycling. All opportunities to be involved are voluntary programs, but many students are looking to change this.
Dr. James C. Cooke, professor of environmental science, has been at ACU for 30 years and has experienced the strengths and weaknesses of the sustainability movement on campus.
“There are lots of ways we could be better stewards,” Cooke said. “It should be our responsibility as a Christian institution to be a leader in that.”
Cooke also commented on the positive impact of the volunteer programs and that anyone who wishes to recycle can and is certainly encouraged to do so, although it may require additional effort on their part.
Without a uniform recycling process, the ACU community offers little to those wishing to integrate sustainability into their culture, he said. Dr. Cooke suggests that perhaps if we could identify what is stopping ACU from establishing a university-wide recycling program, we could figure out a solution.
Despite the absence of institutionalized recycling, Mary Caton, executive assistant of chief financial officer Kelly Young, is responsible for organizing and coordinating many of the volunteer recycling efforts on campus.
“I became involved because I believe that each person has a responsibility to protect the environment and to serve as a good steward of the things God has given us,” Caton said.
Several sustainability efforts are apparent on campus. Blue recycling bags are available in many offices for recycling office paper through the Blue Bag Program. In 2011-2012 alone, ACU recycled nearly 30 tons of office paper, which is a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Couriers who pick up the Blue Bags will also take plastic, aluminum cans and cardboard.
In addition to the Blue Bag program, ACU recycles glass, fluorescent lamps, ink cartridges, parking lot asphalt, aerosol cans and batteries. The Landscaping and Grounds department returns lawn clippings to the soil, turns dead trees into mulch and uses treated waste-water in the irrigation system.
“Sustainability for ACU means living out the values that reflect who we are as a community of Christians who work together toward common goals,” said Caton.
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