Beginning last semester, KU made strides to convert to a green revolution. Titled “Students Promoting Acts of Recycling at Kutztown,” (SPARK) the student-run program was originally implemented during the 2012 spring semester but then forced to pause from the lack of student interest. SPARK now pushes for the attention that will help it stand with other campus organizations. SPARK’s persistence has helped them win the support of roughly 40 students.
With recycling education and truth, group participants have taken roles as Hall Council Committee members for each of the participating residential halls. Committee members, as recycling advocates, must represent their dormitory and educate residents on sustainability.
According to the Spark Facebook page, the program has been “created […] to provide resources for students to create and live in a sustainable environment while attending Kutztown University.” But because of its recent establishment, SPARK has only been able to complete a few recycling events, such as a recycling bulletin board competition, trash audit, and Halloween scariest costume contest (participants were required to make their costume out of recycled materials).
“Everyone is going to be affected by this sustainability dilemma, even if they do or don’t recycle; it’s not just one person’s responsibility,” says Elizabeth Crews, SPARK Vice President. “I just have this feeling that if something doesn’t happen, we’re literally going to be stuck in a rock and we’re not going to be able to get out. And, it might not be this generation or the next generation, but eventually that day will come.”
Eight of the 11 residential halls located across campus are involved with SPARK but only two of those halls—Johnson Hall and Old Main—actively participate.
According to Mark Shuster, SPARK advisor and Associate Director of Housing and Residential Services, many of Kutztown University’s dormitories can make a large impact and contribution toward a green renovation due to the amount of preserved and microwavable products freshmen purchase.
On Oct. 24, Johnson Hall performed a trash audit to determine the amount of recyclable products that are actually disposed incorrectly. Shuster stated that within a weekend, 74 percent of items that were discarded in a trashcan were materials that could have been recycled.
“Many students don’t believe that things put into the recycling bins actually end up recycled,” Philip Baily, a junior at Kutztown University, said in an email interview. “I’ve personally heard rumors that everything, whether it’s trash or recycled products, ends up in the garbage anyway. It defeats the purpose and makes me wonder why I bother recycling here at all.”
The development of SPARK is the first and most prominent action that will help guide the university. SPARK will continue to work on grasping students’ interest in the program.
“I know it’s going to take some time, but the entire goal of SPARK is to educate and tell students that, ‘Hey, the university now endorses [recycling]” said Crews with a combined look of determination and enthusiasm on her face. “At a college level, it is really important to capture students’ interest now so that they implement for the rest of their adult life.”
By Marianella Orlando