Here at Oberlin we pride ourselves on being greener than the average human being. The College provides its residents with easily accessible ways to be environmentally friendly, which encourages us to act as such. The residents of Oberlin hold ourselves to higher standards of environmental care and awareness. Sadly, however, this environmental consciousnesses seems to slip from many of our residents’ minds when alcohol enters the picture. Of the many environmentally unfriendly behaviors exemplary to drunks, the one most deserving of condemnation is that of busting glass bottles.
On the sidewalk, in the street, against a building, in North Quad – these are only some of the general locations on campus in which I’ve seen a busted bottle. Not to play the snobby role of Captain Obvious, but these are not the places bottles belong. Broken bits of glass are recyclable. They belong in recycling bins. Trashcans, at the very least, are also appropriate locations for bottles no longer of use. These receptacles are here to contain the waste we produce for many important reasons. Firstly they limit the eyesore of litter on our beautiful campus. We are very fortunate to have such a pleasant looking campus with diverse-looking buildings, greenery (when it’s not winter time), ponds and more. The glossy reflection of broken bottle pieces is not an aesthetically appealing addition. Secondly, when placed in the appropriate bins these waste materials can find themselves reborn as different products – good for our karma and good for the environment! We all know this is a good thing. Thirdly, proper disposal can prevent the hazardous side effects of disposing some materials inappropriately.
While the list of beneficial reasons for putting waste in the right place could go on, the third point listed is, I feel, the most important reason for Oberlin residents to stop busting bottles around town. Choosing to break a bottle is choosing to be environmentally unfriendly. Think about the waste that could come from one glass beer bottle if it were busted into a hundred pieces. Think about the waste that could come from a hundred glass beer bottles if they were each busted into a hundred pieces. Think about all the spaces those broken bottle pieces could get into; all the critters that might mess with a sharp edge. Think about the Obies who walk around barefoot. Think about the people who have to take the time out of their day to pick up broken pieces of bottles.
These burdens can be avoided. These burdens should be avoided. They are not the burdens of the perpetrator alone, they are the burdens of all Oberlin residents, human and otherwise. Putting waste where it belongs is not a difficult task (yes, even if you have to hold on to it for an extra hundred yards). Making the choice to put waste where it belongs, however, seems to give some of us more trouble than others. Make the right choice: put your empty bottles in a recycling bin. If that’s not an option but it in a trash bin. Pick up the broken pieces that you see. Challenge yourself and others to do what’s right by keeping broken pieces of glass off our streets.