The Root of the Problem…

By Michelle Lee

As our year draws to a close, we would like to thank Jesse Escobar, our stakeholder, for his guidance and assistance these past two quarters. Next, we’d like to thank the ESLP ART faculty and student directors of the ESLP program! Personally, I would like to thank my team members for their inspiring dedication and hardwork. And finally, I would like to thank YOU for reading this blog and for your interest in sustainability.

Our team after the ART final presentations. We hope to carry on the message of recycling for years to come.

Our team after the ART final presentations. We hope to carry on the message of recycling for years to come.

As Kelsey mentioned in our previous blog post, our team has learned so much in the past two quarters. It has truly been an amazing experience working with a group of fellow students focused on waste and recycling on the UCLA campus. I think I speak for all of my team members when I say that the greatest recommendation we can make isn’t changing bins, updating signage, or even adding a composting program on campus. The greatest change we can make is a cultural change. So many of us go about our day-to-day routines accumulating waste (recyclables/compostables/trash); these disposable items enter and leave our lives quickly and conveniently. Consequently, we don’t have to think twice about where they will end up — to recycle the old adage: “out of sight, out of mind.” This disposable culture we have created can no longer be sustained. We need to take ownership of our consumption and our carbon footprint. The planet is suffering due to our indifference and carelessness.

My greatest hope for the future of the Recycling ART teams is to educate the entire campus about proper waste sorting (mentioned briefly in an earlier blog post). If UCLA is serious about reaching its zero waste goal in 2020 and becoming a leader in sustainability, it needs to implement a program that can help create a mainstream recycling culture that will hold everyone to a higher standard of environmental awareness.

At our roots, we are tied deeply to the earth and all other life forms around us. In fact, we are all just stardust — recycled again and again into different forms of matter. Recycling rules can seem foreign and unintuitive sometimes, but recycling itself is ancient and inscribed in our very creation. So don’t get overwhelmed, try your best, and when in doubt, recycle.