It is widely accepted that instant ramen and microwave frozen meals are staple foods that can be found in every college apartment. And while these meals are quick, easy, and convenient, what they lack in nutritional value, they make up for it in plastic weight. Yet for those of us who live in off-campus housing and want to reduce our plastic waste, recycling is almost always not an option.
Grounded in its goals, BYU prides itself on preparing students for lifelong learning and service. In today’s climate, this should also include principles of land stewardship such as environmental awareness, waste reduction and recycling.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, it is taught that “all are stewards – not owners – of this earth and its bounty, and will be accountable to God for what they do with his creations.” In an establishment where living conditions are determined by prior approval for the purpose of “promoting a living environment consistent with the moral principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, access to recycling facilities, or the lack thereof, is troubling to many.
By reducing water pollution and saving energy, recycling offers environmental benefits that help fight global climate change and help save planet Earth. Yet for those of us who currently live in off-campus housing, recycling should be organized at our own pace and on our own.
So, as recycling becomes more accessible globally, recycling while studying at BYU becomes increasingly difficult. But the problem is not confined to the single university; in 2019, the state of Utah grabbed the headlines, ranking 49th for recycled waste nationally, edging only Louisiana.
Although the region’s infrastructure prioritizes parking over recycling units, BYU has a unique opportunity to help reduce waste in Utah by changing the approval requirements for off-campus housing to include access to on-site recycling facilities. By implementing this change, the University will not only make recycling accessible and affordable for current students, but will set an influential precedent for generations to come regarding the importance of earthly stewardship among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Georgia McGrath now lives in Provo and is passionate about encouraging sustainability initiatives in the local community. Before returning to school at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, McGrath led a nationwide behavior change campaign for the UK government that spurred the adoption of environmentally friendly behaviors and technologies.