Ask... the Rowan student recycling coordinator

Kimberly Jones is a senior majoring in English at Rowan University. While at Cherokee High School, she was active in the school's environmental club. She is the student recycling coordinator at Rowan. In the future, the Marlton resident would like to attend law school to study environmental law. She also would like to help underdeveloped countries improve their environments.

Question: How long have you been interested in recycling?

A: I was raised around constant recycling, and it wasn't really an extra step to take. It was always a lifestyle. In high school, I Dumpster-dived with my environmental club to make sure the custodial staff was always recycling, and I helped organize flea markets, which promote reusing. I've also taken part in many roadside and Pine Barrens cleanups.

Q: Why is recycling important?

A: I tell people if you're OK with producing five pounds of waste a day and leaving it for the Earth to digest, that's fine, but that's not the way we're supposed to live. There are creative and revolutionary ways out there to live. And there are even ways to live that will constantly renew and never need to be sent to a landfill. The Earth is lending us a place to live for our short time here, and there is no need to destroy or harm it for future generations.

Q: What is RecycleMania?

A: It's a nationwide recycling contest for colleges and universities nationwide. Rowan got involved with RecycleMania last spring for the first time to promote recycling on campus and to make students aware that recycling does exist on our campus. We received third place in waste minimization, but our recycling rate was just above 12 percent, which we hope to make much higher this year.

Q: Do you find you have to educate those at Rowan about recycling each year?

A: It is difficult on a college campus to motivate students and employees because they have a lot of things going on. It's tough to say whether or not education has to happen every year, but in comparison, we come back to school every year to build on our education. I don't see why we can't do the same for education about the environment.

Q: What was Dorm Rescue?

A: At the end of the school year [in 2006], for the first time we collected items left in dorm rooms and donated them to charities. We diverted nearly 14 55-gallon containers from the landfill. That might not make a huge difference in one year, but it could certainly add up over time.

Q: Rowan's recycling rate is about 13 percent. Is this about average for a school this size?

A: It's hard to say what is average because to me, the average should be about 90 percent. There are huge schools that had recycling rates at 50 percent. If a school with 30,000 people can make that many people recycle, our school definitely can.

Q: What is our realistic target recycling amount?

A: In my last year here, I would like to get our recycling rate between 17 and 20 percent. I think this is a realistic goal. I think with the new outdoor recycling plan, even more people will recycle. We are also working to make recycling prominent in the dorms. I can hopefully leave a strong foundation and more ideas for people following me. I'm also looking into ways that we can reward people for recycling.

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Date Published: Sunday, October 15, 2006 - 01:00
Source URL: The Philadelphia Inquirer