NIU makes recycling easier


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By Ryan Felgenhauer

The familiar four-bin recycling system is slowly disappearing from NIU.

The multicolored recycling bins are a common sight anywhere on the NIU campus. They are slowly being phased out, however, by a newer, single-bin system.

“We’re trying to update NIU’s recycling system,” said graduate assistant Ryan Read. “We’ve had the four-bin system since 1998.”

The new system would no longer require students to sort their recyclables, but instead just put it in a single bin for the recycling companies to sort, Read said.

These new recycling bins are located in Adams Hall, the Music Building and Grant Towers North, according to 3R Recycling Program’s website.

For students who do not live in the dorms, recycling can be more difficult. Oftentimes apartment buildings do not have their own recycling bins. Off-campus students can take their recycling and deposit it in the recycling bins behind most campus buildings, said Michael Tri, senior visual communications major.

Recycling, however, is not the only thing students can do to help sustainability, said NIU Energy Specialist Mary Alice Drain.

“The thing people need to know is that recycling is only number three,” Drain said. “Reduce and reuse come first.”

People put too much emphasis on the recycle part of the equation, Drain said. It is more beneficial for people to think first about how they can use less, and how they can reuse things before recycling them, Drain said.

Read said there are ways for everyday people to focus their efforts onto reducing and reusing.

“Look at what you’re throwing away and compare it to what you’re saving,” Read said. “Bring your own containers of water instead of buying one from the vending machine, for example.”

These efforts are in part in preparation for Recyclemania, a yearly competition between institutions of higher education. Recyclemania is a competition between schools to see who can decrease their waste output the most within eight weeks, said Melissa Burlingame, program coordinator for NIU’s Institute for the Study of the Environment. The top schools win grants to help fund their recycling programs, said Burlingame.