By Samuel Gonzalez ’24 and John Huss ’24
Austin College first welcomed the class of 2027 on August 18, 2023, during move-in day for first-year students. Six students representing the student organization Austin College Thinking Green (THINK) stationed themselves in traditional residence halls — Baker, Clyce, Caruth and Dean Hall — to help reduce waste during the big move. THINK students have annually participated in first-year move-ins for over a decade to help spread awareness about living sustainably and encourage environmental consciousness beginning with the first day students arrive.
THINK volunteers were available in each dorm to provide general information about the mission of THINK and how to recycle at AC. Postcards with the do’s and don’ts of recycling on campus were also distributed to interested students.
In addition to spreading environmental awareness to new and returning students, THINK students provide support to AC’s invaluable housekeeping staff responsible for managing waste generated on move-in day. Volunteers spent the day directing the flow of cardboard to designated areas inside and outside of each building (often involving some heavy lifting) and assisting with break down so that housekeeping and facilities employees were able to concentrate their resources on general operations. Without the efforts of these staff members, AC’s recycling efforts would likely fall flat.
In total, THINK was able to help divert approximately 30 cubic yards of cardboard from the local landfill, roughly equivalent to nine truckloads or 1,500 lbs. Not bad for a Friday afternoon.
Recycling cardboard reduces the sulfur-dioxide emissions associated with the production of cardboard boxes, as well as the water and energy usage involved in producing cardboard from virgin materials. It can also help decrease the rate of logging required to supply cardboard manufacturing. According to the EPA, around 17.2 million tons of paper and cardboard are dumped in landfills each year. It’s a lot to unbox. By spreading awareness, students have the potential to reduce AC’s contribution to such environmental impacts.