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BU student petitions to improve Towers recycling options

Boston University student Ryan Pagois started an online petition urging for more recycling options at The Towers residence hall. RACHEL SHARPLES/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

A Boston University sophomore is petitioning the university’s housing administration to expand recycling options available to residents of The Towers, requesting bins for plastics and paper on every floor.

Ryan Pagois, a Towers resident who studies environmental analysis and policy, said he became “hyper-aware” of environmental issues as a result of his studies. He noticed that the lack of conveniently placed recycling bins in The Towers was causing students to simply dump their plastic, aluminum and paper in the trash instead of taking it downstairs to the dormitory’s lone recycling area.

This realization prompted him to create a petition, he said.

“I wanted to improve the opportunities available for students to recycle their waste,” Pagois said. “I thought this was a good opportunity to improve that system and hopefully encourage more sustainable habits with the residents in Towers.”

Several Towers residents said they have witnessed students throwing away recyclable items out of convenience.

Jannellie Rivera, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she makes sure to recycle whenever she can, but she notices that other residents are deterred by the inconvenience of travelling to the first floor.

“I know other people who aren’t willing to go all the way down, so they’ll just throw [their recyclables] away,” Rivera said. “I think making it more convenient to recycle would help increase how much we do overall and help the sustainability.”

Ryan Marie, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said having more available recycling options would be a benefit as he currently finds it difficult to go downstairs every time he wants to recycle something.

“I think if it was easier and more accessible to recycle, I’d probably be more likely to do it more often,” Marie said.

Pagois’ vision includes one bin for plastics and one bin for paper on every floor of The Towers, he said, a system already in place at Warren Towers.

Associate Vice President for University Sustainability Dennis Carlberg wrote in an email that this recycling process is unique to Warren Towers because the dorm offers sufficient first-floor storage space for recycling before it gets picked up.

Pagois said he has also reached out to Sustainability@BU and BU Housing and has begun working with various resident assistants and the student president of The Towers’ Residence Hall Association to encourage students to recycle and advocate for funding for temporary recycling bins.

In order to encourage students in dorms without bins on every floor to recycle, residents were given reusable bags at the beginning of the semester in which to place their recyclables, Carlberg wrote, allowing students to deposit their papers and plastics on the first floor as they leave the dorm. He wrote that the bags are designed to be easily portable.

Carlberg confirmed that Sustainability@BU is still exploring ways to improve recycling options in campus dormitories.

“The logistics at The Towers and other dorms are more challenging, but we are exploring strategies to overcome these challenges,” Carlberg wrote. “We would welcome student input to see if an appropriate solution can be found.”

CAS freshman Benjamin Pollak, who said he has to walk across The Towers and down three floors to recycle, said he did not think it would be difficult for the housing administration to lessen this inconvenience.

“I think it’s pretty important,” Pollak said, “because if [BU] is going to commit to [sustainability], they might as well do something as easy as putting [recycling] options on each floor.”

Students can help Pagois’ cause by signing and sharing the petition, he said, and by emailing resident assistants and the head of BU Housing.

Pagois emphasized the need for widespread support in order to show the administration that this is not just an issue facing the residents of The Towers, but the whole campus.

“Student support would be a huge bonus for me, because it presents this as a campus-wide initiative rather than my own,” Pagois said. “All student support is appreciated, whether it’s a signature or a share or an email or anything would go super far.”

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