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06 June 2016

Take Out Your Own Trash

At Georgia College a while ago, our president pushed us forward in our move to become a more sustainable campus. A controversial part of this program was to remove trash receptacles from faculty offices and replace them with recycling bins. We had been asked to carry our own trash to the nearest communal receptacle, typically in the restroom. This elicited negative reactions from many in the faculty, which, quite honestly, surprised me. Most of my colleagues are quite vocal supporters of environmental issues, but putting those ideals into practice proved more difficult for them. Everyone is in favor of saving the environment until it requires a little effort or inconvenience on their part. However, it is precisely these annoyances that are required to change behavior. To put it into economic language, the president was trying to disincentivize the production of waste by implementing a cost to that behavior (i.e. forcing people to carry their own garbage further than just swiveling around in their chairs and tossing it in a bin). Ultimately, daily trash removal by the custodial staff was reinstated on campus. If we can't convince a bunch of lefty academics to do this, I'm worried about the larger culture.

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