Ithaca College is a beautiful campus, and as its inhabitants, we have a responsibility to treat the campus with respect. Masks, food wrappers and empty coffee cups are littered across campus at an unprecedented level, and the college is unable to keep up a constant service of picking up everyone’s trash every day. The college has always been a top environmentally sustainable college; it is known for its beautiful grounds and vast acres of natural land. The college is even committed to carbon neutrality and is ahead of schedule. The amount of trash strewn across campus is abnormal and disrespectful. The college is a green college — anyone applying here is made aware of this from any one of their possible searches on the school. Between the college Eco Reps and the number of other environmentalism-related organizations, the college has always tried to maintain a certain standard to be actively environmentally conscious across campus.
When leaving any building, it’s easy to be caught up in feeling free from wearing a mask and dropping it or letting it fall out of a back pocket. There are trash cans located across campus, and it does not take anything away from someone to hold onto their trash until they can find a trash can indoors. Every academic and residential building has recycling and trash cans. Even so, as you look around campus, in the more open areas on campus farther away from the Campus Center there is a sparsity of trash cans. The college needs to look into placing more trash cans throughout campus. But it does not come down only to what more the college can do — every member of the community also needs to hold themselves accountable. The college is understaffed all around, and the Office of Facilities grounds team cannot keep up with the rising amount of litter and dumped masks around campus. Staff members cannot go around picking up every individual used mask, crumpled wrapper and empty cup on the whole campus every day. It’s unreasonable to expect this tedious task to be done by these hard workers. This is not fair to them or the college campus.
This is our community and our campus, and out of respect for the beautiful campus and grounds staff members, this job falls on every member of this community. It is a matter of respect for the workers themselves and for what they do for us, which deserves recognition. We are all adults who do not need other adults to follow us around, picking up every piece of trash that we leave behind. When you eat outside, take another glance around for anything you’re leaving behind. If you take off your mask outside and need to toss it, just hold onto it for a few more feet until you can find a trash can. Ithaca is gorgeous, with vibrant acres of land and an abundance of wildlife surrounding us; let’s try to keep it that way.