Banning the Bottle: WC Goes Green with SEA

By Faith Tarpley

Elm Staff Writer

Washington College’s Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) held a plastic bottle drive Oct. 27 to 28. The drive is one of many recycling iniatives hosted by SEA this academic year.

“The goals of the bottle drive are to draw attention to the issue of disposable bottle waste and encourage students to recycle,” said SEA President Kelly Dobroski. “This is the second bottle drive we have done, but it will not be our last.”

Sophomore Katie Reinl, an SEA representative at the drive, notes how important raising awareness can be. “I don’t think people realize how much not recycling affects landfill pollution,” said Reinl. This small event is part of a bigger picture, said senior Sarah Mann. “This is part of a program called Ban the Bottle, which is to get people on campus more aware of pollution.” According to Ban the Bottle’s website, the average American recycles only 38 of the 167 plastic bottles they use in a year, and in  the United States, more than $1 billion worth of plastic is wasted annually.

Members of the SEA run a table in Hodson Hall for the bottle drive.
Members of the SEA run a table in Hodson Hall for the bottle drive.

The bottle drive offers more than just a place to recycle — they offer a solution to the bottled water problem. “Using reusable water bottles is just as clean and effective as using a disposable plastic one,” said Reinl. “It’s also more cost effective long term.” For approximately $10 a consumer can purchase a Nalgene reusable water bottle, which can save hundreds of dollars annually, according to Ban the Bottle.

Dobroski said recycling is one of the many things students should be doing everyday to be more aware of their environmental impact.

“Being environmentally conscious starts with small steps,” said Dobroski. “It begins with reminding yourself to turn off the lights when you leave a room, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and unplugging unused cords. You don’t have to make dramatic changes in your life to start. Taking these small steps will make all the difference and even inspire you to make other changes in your life.”

Environmental advocates on college campuses play an important role in the advancement of the green initiative.

“Our generation no longer has the option to live as previous generations have,” said Dobroski. “We have not been treating the earth like it’s our home… and it has to stop. We cannot continue to live such wasteful and consumptive lifestyles if we want future generations to know what we know and see what we have seen, but it’s not too late to make small changes today to see brighter days.”

Upcoming SEA events include an all campus gardening day on Nov. 7, which is in partnership with WC’s Garden Club and the  Student Government Association’s Environmental Committee. Later in November, the club will also host Sweater Day, an event that promotes turning down the heat and layering on sweaters to save energy on campus – hot chocolate will be provided in Hodson to keep participants warm and cozy. There will also be a paper and plastic bag drive, where students can trade in their disposable bags for reusable alternatives.

If you are interested in learning more about the environment or joining SEA, the club meets every Monday night at 7 p.m. in William Smith Hall in room 336.

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