“It’s a com­pletely apo­litical thing,” said senior Andrew Holub, echoing sen­ti­ments expressed by others involved in the Hillsdale College Recy­cling program. “It’s just a good, honest attempt to be respon­sible with our waste products and do what we can to not be reckless with the envi­ronment.”

Psi Chi and Tri Beta, the psy­chology and biology hon­o­raries, partner with Dr. Ranessa Cooper, asso­ciate pro­fessor of Biology, Botany Chair, and Director of the Arboretum, in Hillsdale’s growing paper recy­cling program.

Cooper said the program, which she started two years ago, is her third such project. She started the recy­cling program in her dorm in college and, as a member of her high school biology club, the recy­cling program in her hometown.

“We drove around in city trucks and col­lected, and it paid for our club activ­ities,” she said. “I don’t know how that was allowed.”

Since then, the program that she helped to start has trans­formed into an actual city department.

The Hillsdale program partners with Key Oppor­tu­nities, Inc., a not-for-profit voca­tional training orga­ni­zation, to dispose of paper waste.

“We do doc­ument destruction for busi­nesses. Cus­tomers bring the items in, we shred it, then we bale it, and it goes up to the pulp mill and gets pulped,” said Mike Miller, mar­keting contact at the company.

Cooper explained that the college had a rela­tionship with Key Oppor­tu­nities before the recy­cling program, removing shredded con­fi­dential doc­u­ments. “But I wanted to find more oppor­tu­nities for recy­cling,” Cooper said. “It’s a win, win, win, sit­u­ation. It’s good for Hillsdale College, good for Key Oppor­tu­nities, and good for mother earth.”

The paper is col­lected by Key Oppor­tu­nities once a month after student vol­un­teers, usually from Tri Beta or Psi Ch, sort it. Junior Ellen Roundey is one such vol­unteer from Tri Beta.

“I and three other people empty the recy­cling in Delp once a month,” Roundey said. She then described how the material is sorted to divide com­puter paper, news­paper mag­a­zines, and card­board. “I don’t enjoy the sorting,” she said. “But I enjoy the helping out.”

In addition to the paper recy­cling program that Cooper started in con­junction with Key Oppor­tu­nities, Hillsdale also has a plastic, glass, and alu­minum recy­cling program run by the Americal Chemical Society. Those bins can be seen in AJ’s and a few other places around campus.

There are bins for paper in Delp Hall, Mossey Library, Lane Hall, Kendall Hall, and Stro­sacker Science Center.

Key Oppor­tu­nities col­lected roughly 1,500 pounds a month from the college, Miller said. “Since Thanks­giving, we’ve put together 4,500 pounds of paper we’ve bailed up.”

“I don’t think as many people are as aware of it as could be, but we wanted to take the gradual steps so we can manage the program,” Cooper said. “We have a good mech­anism in place and it is growing. I would love for this to be a com­pletely student-driven process. I think we’re close. The more stu­dents we have, the more effi­cient we can be.”

“I think it’s great,” Holub said. “I would really like to see it expand even further — make Hillsdale a campus that really sup­ports recy­cling and is being respon­sible with our waste products.”

On a campus as con­ser­v­ative as Hillsdale, the concern expressed by those involved in the recy­cling program is that reception and enthu­siasm will be dampened by whatever political stigma people see in it. Cooper hopes people can see that the program is about respon­si­bility and stew­ardship of nature and not some political agenda.

“We’re trying to keep stuff out of land­fills and recycle and reuse the products,” said Miller.

That’s some­thing Cooper iden­tifies with. “I def­i­nitely exem­plify the reduce, reuse, recycle motto, and I’m proud of that.”

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From Portland, Oregon. He serves as the paper’s Associate Editor. Meadowcroft is majoring in history and participates in theatre and is on the editorial board of the Tower Light literary publication. Meadowcroft has also worked for the American Spectator. He hopes to write after college on arts and culture, international affairs, travel, theology, and politics. email: | twitter: @micahmuses