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Guest: Require recycling for BYU approved housing

By Georgia McGrath - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 16, 2021

Georgia McGrath

It is a widely accepted fact that instant ramen and frozen microwavable meals are staple foods found in every college apartment. And while these meals are quick, easy and convenient, what they lack in nutritional value, they make up for 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.

Founded in its aims, BYU prides itself on preparing students for lifelong learning and service. In today’s climate, this should also include principles of earthly stewardship such as environmental awareness, waste reduction, and recycling.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, it is taught that “all are stewards — not owners — over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations.” At an institution where living circumstances are determined by pre-approval in an effort to “promote a living environment that is 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 for many.

By reducing water pollution and saving energy, recycling offers environmental benefits that help combat global climate change and contribute towards the preservation of planet earth. Yet, for those of us currently living in off-campus housing, recycling must be arranged in our own time, and on our own dime.

So, while recycling becomes more and more accessible globally, recycling while studying at BYU is becoming an increasingly difficult affair. But the problem is not restricted to the university alone; in 2019, the state of Utah made headline news when it ranked 49th for recycled waste nationally, beating out only Louisiana.

Despite infrastructure in the area favoring parking spaces over recycling units, BYU has a unique opportunity to help alleviate waste in Utah by changing the conditions of approval for off-campus housing to include access to on-site recycling facilities. 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 education at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, McGrath ran a national behavior-change campaign for the British Government which prompted adoption of eco-friendly behavior and technology.


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