Classic Ramblings from the Recycler

Ramblings from the Recycler Nov. 2002

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Richard Laudenslager

The Contamination Explanation

Lately, I’ve been hearing some rumors that Villanova Recycling throws away the recyclables that were put into recycling bins. This led to other rumors that we don’t recycle at all. I can safely say that this second rumor is not true. Villanova Recycling is going strong and in fact we are currently on pace to recycle the most ever for a year. However,  I will say that the first rumor is true to a point. There are occasions where recyclables are thrown away after they were placed into the proper recycling bins. Now before you rush to call the recycle cops to turn us in let me explain to you one of primary problems in recycling.

The problem is contamination. Contamination in recycling is when foreign material is mixed in with a recyclable. This foreign material is usually trash but it can also be other recyclables. A common form of this is when cans and bottles are placed in with the mixed paper. When contamination occurs the recyclable will most likely become trash. This is why we sometimes unfortunately have to throw recyclables away.

So why does contamination occur? There are many reasons why it occurs. One reason may be because there is a lack of trash cans around recycling centers which may cause people to put trash into the recycling bins. Another reason may be a lack of signs or recycling bins at the center which causes people to put trash or recyclables into the wrong bins. The final reason may be that people simply do not read the signs and put trash or recyclables into any bin that is available. When these scenarios occur the items in recycling bins become contaminated.

Your next question may be: “Aren’t you able to just sort the recyclables in order to decontaminate them?” The answer is that sometimes we can and sometimes we cannot. It all depends on what materials were contaminated and how much material was contaminated. When materials like mixed paper are contaminated they most likely become trash because in many cases they absorb liquids and are then no longer accepted at the recycling plant. Other factors for not sorting contaminated material is time and sanitary conditions.

What can we do to prevent contamination? Currently, I am meeting with Custodial Services and members of the VQI Environmental Team to help improve the recycling centers in each building. You can help by using the appropriate bins for each material and to contact me if signs or bins are missing from a center. You can also contact me about ideas to move a recycling center or to make a new one. Together we can help to contain our contamination and improve Villanova Recycling.

Richard Laudenslager, Recycling Coordinator, Villanova Recycling Phone: #94466

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Ramblings from the Recycler Oct. 2003

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

The True Meaning of Recycling

What is recycling? It means different things to different people. To some people it means placing your leftover cans and bottles into a recycling bin. To some it means buying recycled content products. But, probably the most common reason to recycle is to help the environment by reducing our waste. All of these reasons are right and I strongly agree with all of them. However, my meaning of recycling goes much deeper than that.

Being a professional recycling coordinator I have a passion for recycling. I have also seen this passion in the many other recycling professionals that I work with. Now you may be asking yourself how someone can be passionate about collecting a bunch of cans and bottles. Recycling to me is so much more than cans and bottles or even more than saving the environment. To me recycling is a concept and a way of life. Now before you think that I’m getting to deep and philosophical about recycling let me explain.

For many us the solution to deal with an unwanted item was to simply throw it away. We would put the item out of sight and out of mind. It didn’t matter to us where it went. The real advent of the recent recycling movement was to change our attitude about waste. Real recycling helps us to look at the whole process of a product from the cradle to the grave. Real recycling also helps to avoid products from going to the grave. We are now seeking to give products and materials a new life.

My interest in recycling began out of my love for the environment and my commitment to protect it. As a college student and a member of the environmental group one of main goals my campus puts more items into the recycling bins. I guess some things have not changed because that is a big part of job now. However, after a few years in the recycling profession I have grown to have a new understanding and approach to recycling. I feel that one of the tools I have gained from recycling is the ability to think outside of the box. To me recycling is about creativity and about relationships.  Now when I look at a product or material that is considered to be waste I don’t see it as waste at all. I try to look at all the ways that an item might be reused or restored and of course recycled. That sometimes that requires creativity and thinking outside the box. One example of this might be turning waste into art. It also requires having relationships with many different people in order to find a home for items. My furniture recycling program is a good example of the many relationships I have with people in trying find homes for our furniture.

To me the true meaning of recycling is to think outside the box to give a longer life to materials and to hopefully help them avoid the grave (landfill). I also seek to make new relationships to help to find new homes for material. For me the most rewarding part of recycling is working with others to reduce waste, reuse materials, and help save the planet. Remember saving the planet is all in a day’s work here at Villanova Recycling. Won’t you join me?

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler April 2004

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Why Recycle?

Throughout my time here at Villanova I have been asked many questions about our recycling program and recycling in general. For the most part these questions are of the positive nature aimed at helping people to better understand the program and to help improve it. Every so often I get the question (although it is rare): “Why should I recycle?” Now my fellow recycling brethren will probably deem that question to be blasphemous. But all things being considered, it is a fair question. Why do we recycle? In the hopes of many converting some of the recycling non-believers to become true believers in the symbol of the triple arrows, I will attempt to answer this question. Now before you consider my answer to be scripture for all recycling, I will be answering this question in reference to why Villanova recycles.

The first and foremost reason that we recycle is because it is the law. The state of Pennsylvania requires Villanova to recycle. In 1988, the state law Act 101 was passed which mandates municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more to set up recycling programs. Villanova is located within Radnor Township, which is a mandated recycling municipality. Now some of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Boy, that was an easy answer, just tell us that we have to recycle because it’s the law”. While this may be true, but the fact is that Act 101 is one of the few laws across country that requires a state to recycle. This shows a real commitment to recycling and its importance in Pennsylvania. This law has helped the state to create new products, new markets, and new jobs. Recycling in Pennsylvania is a $18.4 billion industry that employs over 80,000 people and Villanova plays a small but important role in this industry.

The second reason the Villanova recycles is because it is better financially. Now I have heard this question before, “wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to simply throw all of our waste away?”. Yes, it would be much easier to simply throw all of our waste away, but it is not cheaper. If we threw out all of our waste we would need fewer bins, fewer trucks, and less education. But, there is a cost for throwing out all of our waste. Currently, all of our waste is taken to a trash-to-steam plant where we have to pay a tipping fee for each load. We recycle over 1 million pounds of materials every year. Everything that is recycled in the program is either sold for a profit or is given away for free to various brokers or end users in the area. If we were to simply throw it all away we would be paying considerably higher tipping fees and we would lose the revenue that we currently earning on our recycled materials.

The final reason that Villanova recycles is to honor our commitment to environmental stewardship. Recycling is good for the environment. Yes, I know that’s the reason that is usually given for recycling, but it’s true. The more we recycle the less reliance we have on our limited natural resources. The more we recycle the less land will be used for landfills. The more we recycle (the trash-to-steam plant for example) less pollution is created. And if the purely environmental aspect doesn’t convince you take into consideration that if we have scarce natural resources, more landfills, and more pollution there will be many costs, financially and health related.

I hope in some way I’ve answered the question, why recycle?  Maybe I even gained a few new recycling converts. I do know that there are a lot of you who do recycle because of the success of our program. Just remember that when you recycle that you are participating in a practice that complies with a law that has created a multi-billion dollar industry, saves money for the university, and helps to create a healthier environment. And that is why we recycle!

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler Sept. 2004

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Recyclin’ Ric’s Summer Break

Well once again the summer just seemed to fly by and here we are again at the beginning of a new school year. The recently vacant streets and buildings of the Villanova are now a flurry of activity with students participating in their favorite activity, visiting their local recycling centers. At least that’s what I’m hoping, but I guess it wouldn’t be their favorite activity maybe somewhere in the top ten favorite activities. Anyway, to start off the new school year in true academic form I would like to participate in the “What I did on my summer break” essay.

During the summer break I had the opportunity to visit the recycling program of another Pennsylvania university that uses blue and white as their colors and a cat as their mascot (copycats). As you probably guessed, I got to visit the famous Nittany Lions of Penn State. You may recall that Villanova lost to Penn State in the statewide Rush to Recycle contest back in 2002, so this visit allowed me to see what we were up against. We were up against a very good recycling program. My visit consisted of a tour personally guided by the university’s recycling coordinator Al Matyasovsky a.k.a. “Big Al”. Villanova has Recyclin’ Ric and Penn State has Big Al, I guess we recycling coordinators have a thing with nicknames. Al has been working with recycling at Penn State for more than ten years. Big Al was a very gracious host and he showed me all over campus the various components of the recycling program. I was able to see their composting facilities, their collection centers, their collection vehicles, and their used equipment storage and distribution center. I was very impressed with the Penn State program. It was well organized and facilitated by a dedicated staff. I can see why they beat us in the Rush to Recycle contest. In all fairness to us however, Penn State’s program is about 20 times the size of Villanova’s program so that would account for their higher numbers.

So how does Villanova Recycling measure up to Penn State? I feel that it measures up very well. Penn State is a totally different type of school. Penn State is a large city while Villanova is a small town. While Penn State has more money and more time for its recycling program, Villanova has in place basically the same type of recycling program albeit at a smaller scale. However, there is a lot to be learned from Penn State that can help us grow. The one thing that impressed me the most was the sense of community around the recycling program at Penn State. Big Al’s main motivation was not about producing better numbers, but to look for ways to use recycling to help better the community. When he talked about the recycling program he spoke about the many partnerships the he had on campus and in the community and how these partnerships helped to benefit recycling and the community.

As I have said many times in the past, Villanova Recycling is only as successful as the community that participates in it. My visit to Penn State showed me that a recycling program is more than just tossing cans into a bin in order to save them for the landfill. It’s about community coming together to solve potential waste problems in a constructive and beneficial manner. I want to thank Al for his hospitality and time to share with a young recycling pup like me the successes of his program and I look forward to using these lessons to help our program grow. And that’s what I did on my summer break. I hope you all have a great academic year.

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler April 2007

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Me, Myself and I: The Interview

You’re in for a special treat this month. For the first time in Ramblings history I will not be rambling. Instead I will be conducting a rare, exciting, and informative interview with myself. I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with my optimist side and my pessimistic side about the state of Villanova University Recycling and what we think about the program.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. We’ll discuss my current mental state at a later date. But for now let’s join the interview.

Recyclin’ Ric (RR): I appreciate you guys giving up some of your time to join me in sharing your thoughts on recycling at Villanova. I know it can be a difficult task in getting all of us in the same room, let alone to actually speak to one another, so this is a special moment.

Optimistic Recyclin’ Ric (ORR): Thanks for having us. It’s a pleasure to be here and talk about the wonderful things that are happening with the recycling program.

Pessimistic Recyclin’ Ric (PRR): Yeah, whatever. No one is going to read the article anyway!

RR: Well, let’s jump right into it and talk about the recycling program. We’ve been here nearly six years, what are your guys’ thoughts on the state of the program?

ORR: Wow, we’ve been here for six years! I guess time flies when you’re having fun! I am very happy about the state of the recycling program. We are recycling more and more material every year, over a million pounds a year. People are really excited about recycling and they are filling up bins all across campus.

PRR: Are you kidding me? Are you actually going to sit there and tell us that people here at Villanova are excited about recycling? What planet are you from? You do have one thing correct though. People are filling recycling bins across campus, but it isn’t being filled with recyclables!

ORR:  You’re just too hard on people! Remember success is based on progress and not perfection. Villanova University Recycling has progressed nicely since it formally began in 1990. Our numbers are up and people contact me all the time about getting more recycling bins in their building or about ways to improve recycling.

PRR:  That’s all fine and dandy, but when was the last time you looked at the recycling guide? I don’t remember seeing Styrofoam cups filled with coffee and used gum being on the list of accepted items in the small blue office bins! People are using their bins for that sort of stuff all the time. And some people don’t even know that there is such a thing as a recycling bin even when it’s staring them in the face!

ORR: Why do you always have to jump to all these extremes? I wish you would just…...

RR: Okay, guys I think we are already getting out of hand and we are only on the first question. If you guys keep rambling like this we will never have enough space to fit the entire article.

PRR: Like that hasn’t happened before.

RR: Alright, let’s move on to the next question. In fairness to Optimist, we have to agree that there are a lot of different programs, promotions, and contests that have helped encourage people to participate in recycling. What are some of your favorite programs that we participated in?

ORR: The two programs that come to my mind are the various contests that we have (especially Recycle Mania) and the recycling advocates in each building. I think that both of these programs bring a sense of fun, community and ownership to the program.

PRR: I know a program that I would like to start. How about when we find people who are not recycling or are recycling incorrectly, we place their name on a list to be published across campus. It could be called the recycling “black list”. I’ll bet people would remember to recycle after that.

RR: Yeah, I don’t think the University would go for that idea. Speaking of new programs, during my last two articles I failed to mention a new program that is starting this semester. Would you guys like to share to share about the Yellow Can Campaign?

ORR:  I would be happy to. This new program is a way to help reward people for being good recyclers in their office. Every month five custodians will be chosen at random and then given a yellow can that we created with information on the can. The custodian will then place the can in someone’s blue office bin. If that person finds that can they simply use the information on the can to contact us and then we will come and give a prize.

PRR: Yeah, good luck with that. I’m sure that we’re going to get tons of calls for people finding the cans. I’m sure that they’ll find the can right after they throw their half eaten piece of pizza into the bin!

ORR: So I take it, that as usual you don’t have high hopes for this program?

PRR: Do you want to know where your precious cans are going to end up? They’ll end up in the trash, like everything else does. What we really need is a program that takes away cans instead of giving them. If someone doesn’t recycle then we take away all of their trash cans and recycle bins. I’d love that program.

RR: Okay, once again we managed to ramble on and run out of room for the article. The last thing that I want to ask is if you are going to participate in Earth Day this year, which will be held on April 20 at the Connelly Center from 11 am to 2 pm?

ORR: I will definitely be there. I always look forward to spending time at Earth Day and meeting everyone from the Villanova community and of course promote recycling.

PRR: I guess I have to, if you guys are going.

RR: Well, guys thanks for joining me once again. The discussion has been interesting to say the least. I hope we can do it again some time.

ORR: It was my pleasure to be here. And I think that we really did make a positive difference with this article as we always do. It’s just unfortunate that some people just can’t see it that way.

PRR: Yeah, whatever.

RR: I’ll see everybody next month!

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler Nov. 2007

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

We’re Back!

I’ve been listening to all the comments concerning one of my articles from last semester. So, now it is time for me to respond to all the comments. No, I’m not referring to you, the readers’ comments. I’m referring to the comments from the voices in my head. So, back by popular demand are Optimist Recyclin’ Ric and Pessimist Recyclin’ Ric. We’re back in part because you the readers enjoyed the last interview so much, but the main reason was that they just wouldn’t shut up! And with that and also with the permission of my psychiatrist I will interview myself again for your reading pleasure.

Recyclin’ Ric (RR): Welcome back guys! How’s your semester going?

Optimist Recyclin’ Ric (ORR): I’m having a wonderful semester. I just love this time of year. The changing of the colors of leaves on campus is spectacular and the air is becoming crisp and cool. It really makes us feel alive!

Pessimist Recyclin’ Ric (PRR): Speak for yourself. Fall has got nothing to do with feeling alive. Death perhaps, is a better description of fall or rather the term dying fits best. In the fall is when everything is dying. The leaves are dying, daylight is dying and warm temperatures are dying. It’s just a time when we can wait for the cold, dark, and long days of winter. Winter is where the death really occurs.

ORR:  So now you are unhappy with fall? Just a few months ago you were complaining that it was too hot and that summer was a sign of death. Man, there’s just no pleasing you, is there?

RR: Okay guys, I can see that we are going down the route as we did in the last interview. If we continue this I will be getting a call from the editor about taking too much space for my article.

PRR: Don’t you get that call every month anyway?

RR: That’s beside the point. We are here to talk about recycling, remember recycling?

PRR: Yes, I remember recycling, but a lot of the people on campus don’t seem to remember recycling.

ORR: That’s not true. There are a lot of people on campus who are really excited about recycling. Don’t you remember last week when we visited Dan at the law school? He’s doing great things with recycling in that building. Because of him people at the law school are well aware that Villanova recycles and are eager to participate in it.

PRR: Okay, I’ll give you that one, but you have to admit that your example is an exception to the rule when it comes to recycling at Villanova.

ORR: No, that’s not true! You are blowing things way out proportion. Why do you always have too………..

RR: Okay, guys I’m going to have to break this up again. Whether either one of you is right or wrong as far as people recycling at Villanova, the fact is that it is our job to encourage people to recycle. It doesn’t matter if it is a large or small number of people.

PRR: What do you know anyway? In the end you always side with him.

RR: That’s not true. You always get your way when it comes to Philly sports.

PRR: Yeah, but that’s really not much of gift. That’s just how it is.

RR: You’re distracting me again. Let’s get back on the topic. Optimist, what are your thoughts on the various contests that are coming up next semester, especially Recycle Mania?

ORR: These contests are great! I really think that the school is really going to get behind the contests. People will be inspired to win for their building or for the school. And Villanova can strive to be the best recyclers in the state and perhaps the whole country. I think we’re ready to win.

PRR: Yeah, we’re ready alright. We’re ready to get destroyed in Recycle Mania by all those hippie schools in California. And now that the contest has allowed those maple syrup eating Canadian schools to enter we don’t stand a chance.

RR: Hey, we really like maple syrup and in some ways we are not too far from being called hippies, so I’d watch what names you are calling people.

PRR: Make me.

RR: Okay, getting back on track again, let’s talk about new project with composting. Optimist, since someone else seems to be in foul mood as usual, would you share about that?

ORR: I’d be happy to. Since the beginning of the semester the Villanova dining halls have been participating in a composting program. All food waste and paper waste is sent to a composting farm in Montgomery County. It is a great addition to our recycling program. Our recycling numbers will grow significantly with this addition.

PRR: You know what’s really to grow because of composting is the smell that’s going to....

RR: Okay, that’s enough out of you. Save your comments for the Eagles game next week.

Well, we’ve run out of time and I’m sure that we will be getting that call from the editor about us rambling on once again. Thanks for joining me guys once again for this interesting, yet strange interview. I hope to talk to you guys soon.

ORR: Thanks for having us again and all I have to say is Go Villanova in Recycle Mania!

PRR: Yeah, whatever.

RR: I’ll see everybody next month. Recycle On!

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Ramblings from the Recycler April 2008

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

The Tradition Continues

It seems that I started a new tradition last year when I introduced all of you to my new “friends”. Since that time I have received comments from a lot of you that you enjoyed meeting my “friends”.  So because you guys seem to like my friends and because they seem to be pretty effective in promoting recycling I will continue with giving you more insights into my friends. It also gives me chance to give a voice to the voices in my head, which is a good thing. At least that’s what my psychiatrist says. For those of you who are new to my friends this is where I interview my pessimist and optimist sides of myself, Pessimist Recyclin’ Ric and Optimist Recyclin’ Ric Well, let’s get on with the interview.

Recyclin’ Ric (RR):  Hello guys, how’s it going? It’s been a while since we last talked.

Optimist Recyclin’ Ric (ORR): You’re right, it has been a long time, but I’m doing great and how about you?

RR: Oh, I guess I doing okay, it’s been a pretty hectic month. I really have to confess to everyone that I really didn’t give a great big push to the contests this year after such a nice build up from last year.

ORR: Well, don’t be too hard on yourself; there were a lot of projects this semester.

RR: Yeah, you’re probably right I………

Pessimist Recyclin’ Ric (PRR):  HELLO! Do you guys remember that I’m here too? I am really convinced that my theory is correct that you guys deliberately try to ignore me.

ORR: Once again, you always read too much into things and take the negative approach to everything.

PRR: Well, can you blame me? I thought this was a joint interview between the three of us, not a chummy conversation between the two of you.

ORR: It is an interview for the three of us, but there was no intention of leaving you out. You always…….

RR: Okay guys, we went way off track at this point and have probably put the readers to sleep at this point.

PRR: And how does this differ from any other Ramblings that you’ve written?

RR:  Very funny. Now, let’s get back to recycling.

PRR:  Back to recycling? Some people need to start recycling around this campus.

RR: Before we run out of space let’s talk about the newest addition to the Villanova University recycling family, the composting program. How’s it going so far?

ORR: This is our first year composting the food in the two main dining halls and we had some challenges, but it really is starting to take off. Last month we recycled approximately 15,000 pounds of food.

PRR: Have you guys seen the food waste when it goes to the composting farm? It’s pretty disgusting looking.

ORR: Yes, but it becomes nutrient rich compost. Composting is the very essence of recycling.

RR: Okay, last topic before we are out of time and space. Move out will be here in a few weeks. Are we ready?

PRR: Are we ready for all of the trash and perfectly good stuff that the students throw all over campus? What do you think?

ORR: It’s not that bad. We have a lot of great volunteers who help sort all the donated stuff and we’re always looking for more people to help. Also the students have been very generous in donating their stuff.

RR: Yeah, thanks for that plug Optimist. You can contact us or rather me if you would like to help with sorting donations in May. I also want to remind everyone to celebrate Earth Day this year at Villanova and at home.

RR: Well, I think we made it through another interview without to much damage. Thanks once again guys for your participation.

ORR: Thanks, my pleasure as always.

PRR: Yeah, whatever!

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler May 2008

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Re-examining the First 2 R’s

Sometimes when I’m writing these columns I feel the need to jump up on my soap box and pontificate about important issues in the recycling world. Well, I guess you could argue that I do that all of time, but I’m not going to count the times that I talk to myself or when I give you a public service announcement about recycling. This is one of the few times that I will put on my serious face (well, sort of) and talk about an issue that’s on my mind.

Back in January I was completing one of my annual tasks when I compile the recycling and trash numbers for the previous year. For about the past 10 years Villanova has been stuck on recycling around 25% of our waste. For the first time in years I had good reason to believe that we were going to finally shatter the 25% mark.

In 2007 we started the composting program in the dining halls which greatly reduced our waste. The two previous years we were throwing away all of our food waste after the pig farmer who used to take the waste for his pigs stopped accepting the waste. In the past I did not get the amount of food that pig farmer was taking, so it did not go into compiling our annual recycling percentage. Now I am receiving the amount of food waste that is being composted and now this food was not being thrown away as it was during the past two years. Also, to add to my excitement recycling amounts have increased every year for the past three years and 2007 was the highest ever, so I was prepared to have a new high in our recycling rate.

But, my optimism was quickly squashed when I compiled our trash amounts for 2007. The numbers were the highest that they had ever been. So, sadly our recycling rate remained at 25%.

Now you probably want to know where all of this extra trash came from. The simple answer is, I don’t know. As I said before, in 2005 and 2006 we were disposing of our food waste and the trash numbers were the highest ever. Now, we are composting that food and yet our trash numbers are higher than ever. Now I will ask the question. Why? Why is the Villanova community so wasteful? While I am happy that we keep increasing the amounts that we are recycling our waste is climbing just as fast.

This does cause me some great concern. While it is my job to get people on campus to recycle, it seems that I also need the campus reeducated on the first two R’s of the 3 R’s of recycling: reduce and reuse. Even I need to remember those two R’s over recycling. Sometimes, I’ll print extra sheets of something and then pat myself on the back and say that the extra sheets that I might not need are okay because I’m recycling these papers. I need to focus on not creating the waste in first place. I need to reexamine what I am doing to reduce and reuse my waste or potential waste.

My point is that we all need to focus on what waste we are creating. It is simply not enough to have our recycling bins overflowing with recyclables. We need to strive to keep all of our bins, trash and recycling, as empty as possible. And just so we’re clear, that does not mean we should just put our waste anywhere we want. Sometimes the students don’t seem to understand this concept, let alone using recycling bins.

So, this is my challenge to you and the campus: let’s reduce our waste! If we are truly a green campus seeking to reduce our carbon footprint, we need to get back to the basics and simply stop wasting. Then we are truly on the right path to being green.

Have a great summer!

Recyclin’ Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler Mar 2009

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Rambling with my Recycling Friends

If you are a frequent reader of Ramblings then you probably know that from time to time I sit down with my closest friends and have a chat with them about recycling here at Villanova. You would also know that my best friends are a big part of me, well…they are me. They are Optimist Recycling Ric and Pessimist Recycling Ric. Once again it is time for me to request their presence as we delve into recycling at Villanova. For those of you who are new to my articles, even though you may question my state of mind after reading this article, I assure that my mind is perfectly fine. Here is how the interview went.

Recyclin’ Ric (RR): Thanks for joining me once again guys, I guess because we are short on time we should get right into it. Hey, where is Pessimist? Didn’t he get the message that we were having an interview now? Man, I can’t keep track of you guys!

Optimist Recyclin’ Ric (ORR): Pessimist knows about the interview, he just said that he wasn’t coming.

RR: And why isn’t he coming? Since when does he call the shots?

ORR: He said that he is tired of always bailing you out when you are scrambling to meet your deadline. He said he has better things to do with his time.

RR: And what exactly is a better thing to do then participate in our interview?

ORR: I’m not sure what he’s doing, but I believe is hanging out by the dumpster near our recycling center at the stadium.  

RR: I would like you go out and find him and bring him back for the interview ASAP.

ORR: Okay, I’ll see what I can do.

-30 minutes later, they both return for the interview.

RR: Where have you guys been all this time? We need to get this done pronto or we will be late in submitting the article.

ORR: I’m sorry that we took so long. He made me help him with his project and then he made me pay him off in order to get him to come to the interview.

RR: And what is this great project that he made you help him with and what did you have to pay him to get him here?

ORR: He was sorting through the dumpster out back to see what people are throwing out and I had to give up my dessert for a month in order to get him here.

Pessimist Recyclin’ Ric (PRR): Can you believe that I found 32 soda cans in the dumpster? Once again I find proof that people don’t really recycle. And what is this “we” statement about your article? This is about you being last minute again and then you expect us to bail you out! I have better things to do with my time.

RR: While I appreciate your efforts to check up on the recycling here at Villanova, I run the show here and I needed you to be here in order to finish the article. Remember, your time is my time. And by the way, you will not be getting Optimist’s desserts for this month or any other month.  

PRR: Yeah, whatever. You guys are never happy with my answers anyway. So, I don’t know why you want me here so bad.

RR: We are a team and we work together whether you like it or not. Let’s get going with the interview because we don’t have much space left in the column. So guys, how is the recycling effort going at Villanova.

PRR: Did you not hear what I just said? I just found 32 soda cans in the dumpster. The last time I checked we recycled soda cans. So to answer your question, the recycling effort is going terrible. Next question please.

ORR: The recycling effort is not as bad as you make it sound. While we did find cans in the dumpster, did you happen to look at the recycling bins next to the dumpster that were full of recycling.

PRR: It’s full because we bring recycling from home, but people don’t recycle here at Villanova.

ORR: Are you saying that we supply all of the recycling for the entire campus? So, we recycle over a million pounds annually all by ourselves? Wow, that’s pretty impressive! I never thought…….

RR: Okay guys, I have to step in here because we literally have no space in the column left, so we have to wrap it up. Any final comments, Optimist?

ORR: The Yellow Can Campaign is in full swing after a brief break in order to get some logistics worked out. People are excited about it. So, look for the yellow can in your blue desk side recycling bin and could be a winner. Keep on recycling!

RR: Final comments, Pessimist?

PRR: What do you care? You don’t like what I say anyway and even when I have proof that people don’t recycle you just ignore me. And another thing, I think that……..

RR: Well, that’s all the time I have for this month. I’ll see you in April.

Recycling Ric

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Ramblings from the Recycler May 2009

Ramblings from the Recycler
By Recyclin’ Ric Laudenslager

Recycling for the Ultimate Reason

Usually when I write my articles it is a safe bet that I will come up with something off the wall. However, chances are that you will remember what you read if I make a point while going off the wall. Every once in the while in the past I have abandoned this approach and instead presented a serious “get up on my soap box” approach and his is one of those times.

Recent events have occurred here in the Grounds Department have caused me to reflect on the importance of recycling in our society and more important environmentalism as a whole. Sometimes there are things in life that happen that can affect us in a way that we didn’t expect. We think we know how might respond to this event or what it might bring out in us, but then something else come out of it.

On March 8, 2009 the Grounds Department lost one of its own to cancer. A man under the age of 60 with a family and very well liked by his coworkers succumbed to stage four melanoma less than a year after he was diagnosed. By the time he passed his body was riddled with tumors, some the size of softballs, and his body almost literally shut down. It was a very painful and sad way to die.

While this was not my first experience with death and cancer it was probably the closest I have ever been to it. And as I said before sometimes you don’t know how an event like that can affect you. For me one of the ways it affected me was to once again take a look at why I recycle and why I am an environmentalist.

One of the defining moments in my life that has influenced my viewpoints was the statement that teacher made when I was taking an environmental science night class at my local community college. His comment was that the true slogan for the environmental movement should not be “save the planet”, but rather “save the people”. In the end we are going to be the ones that die and not the planet.

While I am not here to debate whether the melanoma that killed my coworker is linked to the degradation of the environment, I am going to question that there is a correlation between the frequency of cancer and the environment.

I think we can all agree that the three most important things that we need to survive as humans are clean air, clean water, and clean land. If we lose even one of these things we will die. Is it any wonder that as we continue to pollute our environment that illnesses such as cancer are on the rise?

Seeing my coworker suffer and die and seeing the sorrow which it brought to his family and friends has strengthened my resolve in my environmentalism. Environmentalism isn’t about taking away our freedom and controlling our lives. Well, I guess one could argue that it can control our lives, but this control is in effect to save our lives and our children’s lives.

Perhaps if we strived to keep our air, water, and land clean we would lessen the number of cancer incidents in the world. Sometimes it seems that people view being an environmentalist being weak and unnecessary. But, I feel that it is anything but that. I want to live my life to help keep the air, water, and land clean. If recycling is going to help with that cause and at the same time help to stop people from suffering the fate of my coworker, then I am going to continue to do so. I hope you will join me.

Have a great summer.

Recyclin’ Ric

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