Each week, PC senior Liza Powers packs her car with recycling bins and heads to the local facility in Clinton to sort materials.
Dozens of other students join her for those trips throughout the month. They load up their vehicles and roll up their sleeves, recycling items like plastic bottles and glass collected from residence halls across campus.
“We do it by hand, by ourselves. Normally, students are really good about putting only recyclable items in the bins, but sometimes we get some gross things in there or some things that haven’t been rinsed out,” Powers said.
“It’s definitely not the most fun thing to do, but it’s rewarding because you know you’re helping the community.”
Students lead environmental change on campus
Powers is a coordinator for Green Hose, a student volunteer group that promotes positive environmental change at PC.
Green Hose is one of the many ways students can get involved on campus and live out the motto by serving the community-at-large.
The group recycles campus plastics, glass, aluminum and cardboard. While the group focuses on recycling, Powers says knowing the three Rs goes a long way.
“The three Rs are reduce, reuse, recycle, and they’re in that order for a reason,” Powers said. “So while we put a focus on recycling, the main thing we can do as a community is to reduce the amount of waste we produce.”
Teaching the campus about recycling
Green Hose educated the campus about plastic use and reducing single-plastic use during Recycling Week Monday, Nov. 18 through Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Powers provided tips about being mindful of the trash you make and the things you buy.
“Whether it comes in a lot of plastic packaging or if you’re buying these single-use plastic bottles, or using the straws, the forks, spoons, whatever — just being mindful of that and knowing there are replacements out there. You don’t have to use these single-use plastic items,” she said.
“If you do use them, it’s great to recycle them, but the main thing to focus on is to avoid plastic use altogether.”
Making an impact on campus
Powers’ wake-up call came during her freshman year of college while watching documentaries on Netflix. She learned about the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in oceans and trashes the environment. She joined Green Hose and took a leadership position right after.
She’d always recycled growing up but wanted to make an impact on campus. The community relies on student volunteerism.
The Green Hose group meets the second Tuesday of every month. Some find interest in education, while others help with the community garden.
Group members go to the garden about once a month. There, they pull weeds, dig up beds or help with community events like a recent pumpkin carving event during Halloween.
“(Our faculty adviser) Dr. Hamilton will tell us what they need, and we’ll just send our Green Hose members to go out to help,” Powers said.
Making an impact beyond campus
There’s a place for members to do one or all things that interest them, Powers added, including recycling. A group of recycling coordinators are in charge of bins placed at the buildings.
Coordinators meet frequently and group chat to inform one another when bins are getting full.
“Green Hose is a great way to get involved,” Powers said. “You definitely get to learn your way around campus by helping to empty the recycling bins. And you get to make ties with the community by volunteering at the community garden or at the recycling center.
“Our main goal (is) to educate students about the impact their choices have on the environment. Hopefully, those students, when they graduate, will take that awareness wherever they end up, so it will spread further than just the campus.”
You can find more than 60 clubs and organizations to get involved in at PC, from groups like Green Hose to fraternities and sororities. See Get Involved for more information.