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ASU Ag Students Recycling

May 13, 2013

With April 22 designated as Earth Day, and with Angelo State University just wrapping up a series of Earth Week activities, it was fitting that a group of ASU agriculture students chose Friday, April 26, to show up with a load of aluminum cans for recycling at Acme Iron and Metal Co.

And, this was no ordinary load of cans.  It took two pickups and two trailers for the 32 students to load and transport the 645 pounds of cans for recycling. For their efforts, the students raised a little over $300 that will be donated to the disaster relief fund for the citizens of West, who are still recovering from the recent explosion at the town’s fertilizer plant.

This marks the fifth year that students in the ASU Agriculture Department’s Land and Natural Resource Economics class taught by Dr. Sierra Howry have participated in an aluminum can recycling project.

“I started this project as a way to actually show the students that just a little bit of effort on each student’s part could have a big effect,” Howry said. “The purpose of this course is to teach students how economics can play a role in natural resources, and that being good stewards of the land can have an effect.  An entire section of the course is devoted to recycling, so collecting the cans just really helps teach the students what recycling is all about.”

The 645 pounds of cans and $303.15 raised this year are new records for the recycling project. The previous record was 589 pounds of cans and $265.05 raised in 2011. That donation went to the Wall Fire Department, and the 2012 donation of $239.08 went to the West Texas Boys Ranch.

“Initially, some students may have only brought in a couple of dozen cans, but once we started adding them up, it really made a difference,” Howry said. “Now the students work to bring as many cans as possible, in hopes of beating the record each year.”

And, the collecting and recycling of aluminum cans does not always end once Earth Day has passed and the class is over at the end of the semester.

“I really think the students enjoy doing this project,” Howry said, “and several students that have taken the class in the past have told me that they now continue to recycle their cans.”

The agriculture students’ project is also just one of several taking place on campus as ASU strives to reduce its environmental impact. The Biology Department facilitates the collection and recycling of cell phones, toner cartridges and many other electronic items, with all proceeds donated to the Angelo State Natural History Collections Endowment.

On a campus-wide scale, ASU implemented its Blue and Gold Go Green recycling initiative in 2009. Collection bins for paper and plastic products are located in all the major buildings on campus, and there are special blue dumpsters specifically reserved for cardboard recyclables at three locations across campus.

A nonprofit initiative launched in 2007 called The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment states, “Colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to eliminate global warming emissions and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality.”

ASU remains committed to that goal, just as Dr. Howry’s agriculture students remain committed to collecting even more aluminum cans and raising even more money for another worthy cause.