Recycling program struggles to find volunteers

The UAA recycling program, struggling to find volunteers, is now offering to pay student clubs if their members participate in its recycling efforts. If a minimum of four club members sign up to volunteer to pick up recycling around campus for about five or six hours on a Friday afternoon, the recycling program will deposit $125 into that club’s account.

The UAA recycling program is currently run by a few members of UAA’s student government, and relies on volunteers to collect the materials set aside for recycling on campus every week. Many of the students who volunteer their time also work and have demanding schedules, but say they continue working with the program because it is important to them. The program, which used to pick up recycling materials every week, had to cut back to picking up every other week because of a limited number of volunteers.

“Last semester we had a little bit more (volunteers), but this semester it’s almost non-existent,” said Chelsea Harshbarger, a junior majoring in graphic design, who is the administrative secretary for student government and also works with the recycling program. She says she thinks young people don’t participate much in recycling because it takes up too much of their free time.

“Frankly, the students are the majority of people that use the paper on campus,” said Harshbarger. “Students should help support (the program) because I don’t think there’s enough.”

The recycling program operates solely on funding from USUAA after a grant from the Municipality of Anchorage expired last semester, leaving the program with no external funding. The grant covered the recycling director’s salary, the bins to collect the recycling and the placement of the bins around campus.

“USUAA supplies a room for the recycling program to operate out of and the administrative help and use of phones, fax, printer, computers, et cetera,” said Liisa Morrison, administrative secretary for student government. “The university furnished the Dumpsters and pays for the emptying of these Dumpsters at the recycling center.  They also paid for the majority of the building of a fenced in complex to house the recycling Dumpsters over by the arts building. In total, if the grant did not cover any of our expenses, a normal year would cost $17,780.”

The program director’s salary and two paid assistant positions come from USUAA contributions. A $60 fee is also paid to University Facilities every week to rent the truck or van that is used to get around campus and pick up the recycling.

congratulations from UPD to UAA graduates
- Advertisement -

“USUAA allocates $750 towards supplies for the recycling program and $2,000 for stipends for students that volunteer for the program,” Morrison said.

Andrea DeVore, the recycling program director, wants to get the word out about the program and see more volunteers.

“I think UAA students should volunteer for the recycling program because recycling is a responsibility that everyone should be committed to carrying out,” DeVore said. “Just a few hours of a student’s time can make a huge impact on how much paper we can collect and get recycled per week. Students looking to make a difference on their campus would benefit from seeing how much paper just one university campus goes through per week – the amount is staggering.”

The program, however, is seeing a very limited number of volunteers so far this semester. DeVore said she has received a few e-mails from students in courses in which the professors require a certain number of active service hours involving environmental education. These are the only volunteers the program saw last semester as well, according to DeVore.

“I think the recycling program would be more successful if we could get a core of steady volunteers or more employees who really know the campus and where all the recycling bins are,” DeVore said. “It would also go faster if people would stop putting the wrong thing in our bins – like used paper towels, fast food wrappers, and other things that we don’t recycle.”

Volunteers can contact the USUAA recycling program at 786-1205 or by e-mail at [email protected]