Club Promotes Environmental Awareness and Waste Management
by Catherine Brewer ’20
“Frightening.” That is what Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation’s (RIRRC) Education and Outreach Facilitator Carol Bjartmarz has to say about the current state of the Central Landfill. Located 15 minutes away in Johnston, it is the only landfill in the state, and it is almost full. According to Bjartmarz, while phases one through five were filled with waste over a span of 35 years, phase six was opened in Jan. 2016 and is in need of an expansion less than two years later. The worst part? “More than 50 percent could have been composted or recycled,” said Bjartmarz.
Confused about composting and recycling? Stay tuned to Providence College’s club, ECOPC, a student group that advocates for environmental issues, from the local to international level. On Wednesday, November 29, the club hosted PC Recycles Day in Slavin to inform members of the community about current environmental issues and ways that individuals can work to deter the downward spiral. Mitchell Schirch ’18, a club member who was helping run the booth, stated that the club’s mission was to “get the PC community active and educated.”
Representing ECOPC alongside Schirch was Alexandra Duryea ’17, Matthew Lovecchio ’18, Sydney Fontaine ’18, and Samuel Frick ’20. Duryea explained that while the club “didn’t have a lot” of resources in its early stages, she has faith that the dedication of the students involved will push forward despite her December graduation. Earlier in the semester, they held a screening of Food, Inc. The club is looking forward to increasing its reach with more events next semester.
One issue that both ECOPC and RIRRC are working on is the PC and greater RI community’s misconception of recycling. According to Bjartmarz, single stream recycling was enacted five years ago by RI legislation. That means that all recyclable materials can be deposited in the same container. Besides paper products, Bjartmartz claims that containers, like your coffee cup, are some of the easiest consumer wastes to recycle. “Empty at a minimum, rinsed when possible,” she stated, as the materials are all sorted by employees at the plant, which often grows extremely hot and pungent in the summer. However, beware of the materials that cannot be recycled and could potentially lead to a whole bag of recyclable materials being sent to the landfill: styrofoam and straws, among many others. A complete list can be found on RIRRC’s website.
Additionally, both groups advocate for composting; however, PC does not have the systems in place to do so. In an effort to prove the benefits that it would bring to campus, Duryea and her fellow EcoReps held the Clean Plate Challenge on Tuesday, October 24. Collaborating with Michelle Lee Guiney from Waste Management, the team was able to collect a shocking amount of food waste that would have otherwise been sent to the landfill. Duryea exclaims, “We had 351 clean plates and 424 plates with food waste that totaled 95.84 pounds within only two hours from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.!”
ECOPC advocates for buying locally sourced food and dining at restaurants that buy locally grown ingredients as other small ways to live more sustainably. They have compiled a list of markets and restaurants in Providence, including AS220, Flatbread Co., Venda Ravioli, and White Electric Coffee.
Want to get involved? Students who are interested in joining the ECOPC team are welcomed to join the weekly meetings that are held every Monday night from 8-9 p.m. in Feinstein 116. If you would like to be added to the email list, Duryea says that students should direct message the PC Go Green Instagram account with their PC email. “To keep super informed on what the club is doing and to learn various ways to boost your sustainability follow the @pcgogreen on Instagram!”