Earth Day: taking care of the planet

Bella Pacinelli, FEATURES EDITOR

For many people, April 22 is an insignificant day of the year. There is no giving or receiving presents. There is no meal that brings families together. Nonetheless, Earth Day reminds people of the importance of preserving the environment.

“I wish Earth Day could be 365 days a year,” said Peggy Kohler, Director of Facilities Management. The harsh truth is that “our resources are going to be depleted and we do not want to be living in a landfill. We have got to be more careful about how and what we recycle, what we purchase, and how we reuse,” she said.

This day is an opportunity to recognize everyone’s part in the commonly used phrase, reduce, reuse and recycle.

“Some people take Earth Day very seriously and other people don’t even know what it is,” Kohler said.

Facilities Management employee, senior, Frankie Craider said, “It’s our Earth and we should be doing our best to keep it clean and do everything we can to take care of it.”

Kohler agreed that “so many times, we neglect and take things for granted.”

Craider’s passion for recycling began in high school when she took an environmental course.
She realized that “we are living here, so why not do everything we can to save it?”

Kohler said that protecting the environment is something we have to learn.

“It is our lifestyle and we have got to be able to modify that to make a difference,” she said.
AU has begun to take the steps necessary to improve the Earth.

Kohler said, “About 40% of our material is diverted from the landfill and is being recycled.”
She said, We have got recycling bins located everywhere on campus. There are water bottle refill stations in 13 buildings and many of the chemicals used on campus are green chemicals which are safer for the environment.

Some people “don’t care where they are throwing the recycling” but if they “take the time to walk by that trash can and recycle appropriately,” these little things can make a huge difference, Craider said.

Kohler said the issue may be that not everyone knows what AU recycles. The recyclable materials include: paper, plastics 1-7, aluminum, books, scrap metal, solvents, toners, greeting cards, electronic waste, glass, cardboard, fluorescent light bulbs, tires, printer cartridges and grease. AU has recycled over 40 thousand pounds of cardboard in 2017 and 2018.

“We are payed for paper, aluminum and cardboard, so by not recycling just those three things we are throwing money down the drain,” Kohler said.

This money is used to employ students for the recycling department of Facilities Management.
“The more we recycle, the more revenue we bring in, the more students we are able to hire,” she said.

In an effort to be more ecofriendly, Kohler suggested using reusable objects such as glass water bottles and the green containers at the Eagle’s Nest. She also said to walk across campus, rather than drive.

“It is a personal choice and people need to understand that the consequences are real,” Kohler said.

Facilities Management started AU Cares in 2009. This program encourages students to donate reusable items and non-perishable food at the end of the academic year.

Kohler said, “If you don’t want [it], donate [it].”

The donated items are then sent to local charities. Last year, they were given to Living Waters Ministry and the Ashland County Cancer Association. Since the beginning of this program, AU Cares has donated over 33 thousand pounds of items. The preservation of the environment does not have to wait until Earth Day.

On March 24 from 8:30-9:30pm, Earth Hour encourages people across the world to unplug everything and power down as much as they can.

“Even though the appliance is not on, but plugged in, you’ve got phantom energy and it is still energy being used,” Kohler said. “If everybody would make that effort for one hour it could end up being a lifestyle change.”

The long-term effects of acknowledging the reality of Earth Hour and Earth Day will impact the world for current and future generations, making it a gift no one knew they needed.