Laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles — who would ever think that these meaningless household items could be recycled, or even better, could be used to win big prizes?
Missouri Western’s dream machines, the sparking dark blue bins located in every campus building, accept a lot more then plastic juice bottles and soda cans. According to Student Recycling Coordinator Amanda Blevins, these handy-dandy magical mechanisms accept almost any plastic object.
“Some people aren’t aware of what’s recyclable,” Blevins said. “On the bottom of almost every piece of plastic there is a little triangle made of arrows. In the middle of that is a number — usually one, two, four or six. The dream machines can recycle ones and twos. Almost anything that comes in plastic and is made for home use is a two.”
Western’s new recycling project, also known as Greenopolis, has gained numerous attention from both faculty and students. According to Blevins, people are not only using their campus waste to recycle, but are even bringing in their bags from home.
“I like when people bring bags from their homes,” Blevins said. “It lets me know that that recycling is on their minds even when they are not by the machines.”
Craig School of Business instructor and advisor of Greenopolis Michael West said that the next step is educating more people about the use of the machines and ensuring that the machines stay empty so that students can continue filling them. Though machines are filling up very quickly, West explained that students can rest assured that they will be emptied as fast as possible.
“We are developing an education program for recycling in general,” West said. “We hope to foster in some additional growth. People are bringing in such volume. They will bring it so much that it will fill up the machines. It’s positive that people are recycling large volume. It does take time for the next crew to unload the machine however,” West said.
According to West, even Western’s janitorial staff has jumped on board with the recycling program.
“Even the custodians, when they find plastic bottles or cans, they are putting them into the dream machines,” West said.
West and Blevins both feel that with the economic cycle, it’s highly important now more then ever to go the extra mile in recycling. Along with developing an educational program, Blevins has gone to Griffon Edge to speak to the new freshmen and hopes to get another dream machine kiosk, like the one in the commons, in the Blum Union.
“We need to reduce the landfills,” West said. “We are running out of stuff. There was a time not too long ago when trash was getting so bad that they were taking the trash out to sea. They literally were loading up barges and taking them out to sea. We have overcome the problem through recycling.”
West explains that the dream machine kiosks give students points when they recycle. The machines quickly scan the object and place the points on a card. The more points, the more prizes. Coupons, restaurant discounts, certificates and even a laptop are on the list of prizes students can win depending on their points. There is also a school incentive, Blevins said.
“If we recycle a certain percentage in weight, we are automatically entered into a contest to win a $500,000 scholarship. We have been unable to meet that quota, but in time I hope we can recycle enough to enter in that contest.”
Student Alyssa Filger frequently utilizes the machines, but feels if there were kiosks present, the process would be more beneficial.
“They only have two on campus so that’s my complaint about it,” Filger said. “There was only one over there by all the dorms and it would fill up really fast and then you would have to wait a couple days to load.”
Whether only a step or mile toward the right direction of recycling and ultimately beautifying the world, Blevins explains that she loves her recycling job simply because it makes her feel like she is personally helping the world. She feels that within time, more people will eventually jump on board.
“Every time I work I feel like a superhero,” Blevins said. “I just feel like I’m saving the world.”