By Mike Estrada
You can’t walk around COC without noticing its beauty; from the always fresh cut lawns to the trees and flowers that produce radiant hues of colors from across the spectrum. However, there is an ugly side to the campus, and it is due to our own negligence.
For a school with trash cans everywhere you look, there is a surprising amount of garbage that doesn’t quite seem to make in the receptacles.
There is of course the accidental clutter that gets around on a windy day, but when there are bottles in hallways, wrappers on benches and remains of meals in the cafeteria, we know that this was knowingly and purposely left with the decision of those people being, “I don’t care.”
It is depressing considering we are on a college campus, and it can be safely assumed that the majority of people here are adults.
So as adults, it seems that asking to pick up after yourself shouldn’t even be something we have to ask.
A couple of COC students, Jenna Sicam and Collin Andrus, had their own opinions to add to the lack of accountability across our campus.
“Littering is completely disrespectful and harmful to our environment,” said Sicam. “I hope everyone makes a point to throw their trash away in the designated areas and makes an effort to pick up the trash they see on the floor if they can.”
When asked about troubles finding a clean spot to eat in the cafeteria, Andrus stated, “It sucks you know, I’m trying to find a seat in the cafeteria and there’s trash on the tables, we’re supposed to all be adults here but some people just aren’t getting it.”
Now you might be asking yourself, “why should I care? It isn’t my trash.” And there are many reasons. I can’t tell you why to care about something, but hopefully things like: having pride in the school, wanting to be a good example, and caring about the environment are somewhere on your personal list of things to care about, and if so then perhaps you do care about the litter.
But if you don’t want to take my word for it, here is our Environmental Protection Agency’s statement:
“Trash can travel throughout the world’s rivers and oceans, accumulating on beaches and within gyres. This debris harms physical habitats, transports chemical pollutants, threatens aquatic life, and interferes with human uses of river, marine and coastal environments. Of all trash, plastic trash has the greatest potential to harm the environment, wildlife and humans. It can be found floating at the surface, suspended in the water column, or on the bottom of almost all water bodies. It is transported by rivers to the ocean, where it moves with the currents, and is often eaten by birds and fish, concentrating toxic chemicals in their tissues, and filling their stomachs, causing them to starve. Plastic aquatic debris is much more than a mere aesthetic problem.”
With wildlife such as squirrels and birds, and rain gutters that lead to the ocean, we should take more care in the way we dispose of our waste, as there is a strong possibility that our plastics and other non-biodegradables will end up in the ocean for years and years to come, affecting the lives of marine animals and possibly leading to their deaths.
I asked the current Director of Environmental Affairs, Tyler Robert Clark, for his take on how we can better take care of our campus and environment and he had a powerful statement about group effort, noting that when we act as a good example, other people will see it and follow suit.
“When you see the plastic bottle laying on the floor, or when you see the gum wrapper, or the piece of paper, pick it up because it’s not just your campus it’s everybody’s campus and it’s not just the individual but it’s the collective, we’re all here to hopefully make the world a better place.”
Our custodians know first-hand just how bad it can be. There have been students that have recounted some gross stories of unclean bathrooms, and one student even spoke about a moment where someone shoved a deflated football down the toilet and flooded it.
No matter how bad it gets, somebody has to clean it up, and it is almost never the person who did it. Our custodians are working hard in an effort to keep our campus looking beautiful, and just a little common courtesy can go along way in aiding them to reach that goal.
Monique Moreno, a custodian and student here at COC, enjoys seeing the campus looking its best and takes pleasure in her role making that happen, but wishes that people would show a little more consideration when discarding their trash.
“I know everybody misses a trashcan once in a while,” she said. “But usually you know, you miss a trashcan you pick it up, you take a toilet seat cover you take out one not the whole thing and then just throw it on the floor.”
One thing that may be overlooked from time to time is that custodians are employees of the school, not our parents.
The aforementioned case of the football, and Monique’s point of not wasting bathroom toiletries, are all events that don’t happen on accident. They are purposely done with no thought to others.
Another student I spoke to, Raffi D., notices that to be true all too often and I asked him about the things he has seen.
“Why would you do that, why would you go out of your way to litter the floor and be an a–hole,” he said. “There is a lot of people that do that, like intentional trash on the grass, you can just pick that up and throw it in the trash it’s not that big of a deal and people are not mature about it.”
Because we will always have those people who do as they please with little to no regard for others, it is even that much more important that we go out and set positive examples for our fellow classmates. Regardless of your reasons, whether they be environmental or morals, it needs to be acknowledged that there are too many people ruining our beautiful campus and the only change that truly makes a difference is a change within ourselves.
When we take action and make good decisions to not just throw away our own garbage but to toss a piece of garbage we see on the floor into the nearest trash can, we set into motion a continuous flow of good examples.
I throw away something I see, then someone who doesn’t really care either sees that and maybe decides to that themselves, then someone else sees them and so on and so forth.
From custodians to students, it is only with a group effort are we going to keep College of the Canyons beautiful and full of life.