Viewpoint: Campus is to be cherished, not trashed

At a recent On Air Engaged Learning Series presentation, Chip Ward, an environmental activist and author, told the audience to stop using the term “environmentalist,” using “embodimentalist” instead. He meant that, since we are all a part of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, we all embody our environments. That being said, we also embody our campus.

Walking through many of the parking lots on campus, we see litter cluttered around car wheels and clogging the gutters. Sometimes, we’ll even see a toppled trash can or, if we’re lucky, someone littering right in front of us. We see these dastardly acts being committed on the daily.

We witness and allow every kind of littering, from the smokers flicking their cigarette butts to students dropping their gum. By not saying anything, by watching and walking or driving away, we are basically giving our consent to the littering population on campus. We are saying, by not saying anything at all, that destructive acts are fine by us. This needs to stop. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and our flesh and blood are affected by the disturbing amount of trash around campus.

A form of littering that is more openly allowed is tossing recyclable paper, aluminum and plastic in the wrong bins. Call us nitpicky, earth-loving tree-huggers, but seeing perfectly recyclable paper and other materials thrown away makes us cringe. Oftentimes, our copy editor will act as a recycle-bin Nazi in our office and look through each bin to see if we are all recycling as much as we can. Of course, being in the print industry, we use paper. But if we can do our part to recycle unused issues and check our bins, other students should follow our lead.

Like Ward jokingly put it during his speech, “Do upwind, upstream from others as you would have them do upwind and upstream to you.”

Weber State University in general is striving to become a more sustainable campus and community. From using solar power to reducing water use, WSU has a plan of action. Except for with littering. That is, for the most part, the responsibility is placed on the students, faculty and staff.

WSU can go green all it wants, but what good is a carbon-neutral campus if it’s covered in candy wrappers, parking tickets and food containers?

Do we really need signs around our campus that state, “No littering — $500 fine” placed in parking lots or on sidewalks leading to buildings? No, of course not. Those signs are waste of WSU’s time, money and resources. We shouldn’t have to be told to not leave our trash in places where it shouldn’t go. We know better. So let’s do better.

Littering is a petty crime, and we should stop those we see committing it. Saying something as simple as “Hey, are you going to pick that up, or should I?” will enact the right amount of guilt on offenders and gain desired results.

We should pick up the trash we see while walking to and from parking lots and classes and any time in between. Would you rather have your child or younger sibling see you pick up a piece of litter or kick it? What example are we setting for people? Weber State is meant to be great, not covered in the trash of students. Our campus environment should be cherished and cleaned up after by the people who use it.