A smart way to take out the trash

Student’s voiced concerns regarding the College’s efforts in sustainability at the Town Hall meeting hosted by the Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate on March 13. Environmental Affairs Representative fourth-year Andy Bertelsen also expressed concern over the ways in which facilities and the students interact to ensure the College is being as sustainable as it can be. 

Bertelson has been in communication with Director of Faculties Jonathan Estrella to propose a new trash collecting system in attempts to save resources in the facilities budget. “There’s a smart waste trash bin that has technology in it to show when the bin is full,” said Bertelsen. “That would save time for the workforce. It wouldn’t just be a bunch of checking [cans] around campus ... And that would save up some resources.” 

These smart bins would come from Bigbelly, a company that works to incorporate new technology waste management and recycling efforts. On their website, bigbelly.com, the company describes their involvement with college campuses, writing, “Colleges have a unique opportunity to implement sustainable solutions at scale that make a lasting difference. Schools deploy Bigbelly throughout campus for a uniform campus-wide recycling system that measures diversion rates and provides a messaging platform to reinforce proper disposal. This visible initiative showcases your commitment to be a more environmentally responsible institution.”

Bertelson explained that, even though this new trash system would save the facilities resources, the  department does not have the funds to install this system. “Whittier College does not have, by any means necessary, the funds that it should have to tackle these issues,” said Bertelsen. “We’re talking about bringing some Bigbelly trash cans, but we could barely afford one of them.” 

Bertelsen stated that there have been proposals to install a green initiation in the enrolled student’s tuition, giving the example of raising each student’s tuition a small amount and allocating those funds to the facilities department to fund more sustainability initiatives. “Five dollars more isn’t a lot, but then again, we’re already paying a lot of [tuition],” said Bertelsen. “It would be cool to have a decent amount of funding [to allow] the students and facilities to work together on landscaping projects, sustainability projects, or new trash bins.” 

While the College might not have many funds allocated to environmental issues, there is a club on campus that addresses these concerns. 

The Whittier College Sustainability Club’s mission statement is “to foster a group of young and spirited individuals that focus on environmental issues.” 

They attempt to accomplish this goal by presenting sustainable efforts, raising awareness for these issues, and educating others on habits and practices they could adopt to promote sustainability for themselves and future generations. Students who are interested in joining the Sustainability Club or have concerns to voice can meet with the club on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in room 201 of the Science and Learning Center (SLC).