Page 13 Cartoons

Our throw away society can’t continue forever—recycle!

April 23, 2009

Three months ago, I went to Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Although I have many joyous memories of the occasion, one of the more lasting is also the most disheartening: the National Mall was a wreck once the ceremony had ended. The crowd of over a million people had just been invigorated by Obama’s impassioned speech highlighting personal accountability, each person was energized with visions of an incredible next four to eight years; so energized that they trashed the Mall.
After inauguration, The Washington Post reported a total of about 460,000 pounds of trash in and around the mall—about a quarter of a pound per person. How quickly the language of personal accountability had been forgotten. Perhaps the only ones who truly understood this impact were those tasked with cleaning up after everyone else—forced to make a sacrifice for the lack of general personal accountability. This Earth Week, reflect again upon this value, often praised but more often forgotten.
Personal accountability is not just a nice idea for the future–it requires a few seconds of extra thinking now. It requires you to remember to flick that light switch or power strip off when leaving a room. It requires you to think about whether or not you really need that plastic bag or that coffee cup clutch.  It makes you think before you hop into a car. And it requires you to think before you trash.
Too many of our actions exist in abstraction. We do not see or know those who must clean up the mess produced by our throwaway society. We do not see the landfills where our discarded goods pile up or the effects that these have on the groundwater surrounding them. We do not see the carbon pumped in the atmosphere or other energy used by the flick of a light switch. It is far too easy to decontextualize ourselves from the effects of our actions. However, as active, contemplative citizens, we must never ignore our power to think—to think about our actions and their consequences, to think beyond the immediate present, and to think about how we as individuals and as a whole can make a difference.
Most importantly, at this juncture in time for the Georgetown community, I hope that everyone remembers the ideal of personal accountability this Georgetown Day, which falls on Arbor Day, right in the middle of Earth Week. That day of the year, the favorite of many, is when we all get to take a short break from the stressful lives of exams and papers to relax and revel in the fun of student life. However, remember that campus pride is at the heart of Georgetown Day, and why we love it so much. If you are proud of your campus, then you must also like to see it kept in its beautiful state—to see Healy Lawn and Copley Lawn in all of their green splendor. So as you stumble around with your Solo cups on Friday, and the eyes of John Carroll watching from his statuesque perch, take a moment to think, to pick up your trash and recyclables, and to ensure that your peers do as well.

Read More

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We all need to learn to take our trash home with us. The days of free trash pick-up are over – in every sense. If you bring a six pack somewhere, take home the empties. Finish that box of cheeze-its during the speech on the Mall? Crush the box, and put it with the empties. Yes, carry it all home! Recycle them at home where you know the location of the recycle bin. Don’t have a recycle bin in your room? Shame. That’s just as bad as not having a trash bin/bag in your room. Are you throwing the crap on the floor? Your roommie must love you. If we do not start to clean up after ourselves, we will destroy the beauty around us and, in the process, drown in the crap. Now, get on it. And another thing, see the empty beer can on ground outside your dorm? Quit bitching about the environment and bend down and pick it up. Then recycle it. It may not be yours, but I bet you’ve randomly dropped one in the past on the street/lawn/hallway – payback is a bitch. And it is coming if we don’t all get on board with this problem.


It’s time we started changing our minds about cigarette butts in particular. When you throw your butts on the street – guess what – you’re littering. It’s easy enough to put it out against a trash can or your shoe sole and throw it out. Nothing against smokers as I used to be one, but it’s time we stopped giving them a pass for throwing trash all over the streets and the lawns.

Janet Cunningham

Yes, it is time we start to doing things differently, we need to start making life better for everyone, by ending global warming, by honestly caring for someone else; by accepting people for who they really are.

Bob Follmer

Flicking cigarette buts onto the floor is about 80% of why I smoke.