In any spot where students congregate, from lunch tables to the library, you are sure to find heaps of litter scattered around. Littering on campus has been a big problem as students leave their unwanted trash behind for others to clean up. 

Campus Aide Julena Alvarez said, “They just don’t care. They’re just leaving their trash on the lunch tables, and I don’t know if they’re expecting us to just pick it up and throw it away. It’s common courtesy: throw your trash away. Littering has definitely been worse this year.”

Jerold Olson, who is in charge of school maintenance, agreed, saying, “Right now, I feel like the littering’s been worse just because of finals. It takes easily about an hour or two every day to clean all the trash up.”

Alvarez said, “If it’s really bad, we campus aides help clean the trash—even though it’s not our job—just for the campus to look presentable. So then we don’t have the superintendent come up on campus and say, ‘What’s going on?’ because it falls back on us as employees not keeping it up. So then we get in trouble for it.”

Alvarez continued, “Right now, food is littered around the most. And that’s why there’s a lot more seagulls, more birds right now because of the food.”

Besides lunch tables, other areas that attract lots of people bring in litter, such as the library and parking lots.

Librarian Catherine Burton Tillson said, “For whatever reason, kids like to be in the little nooks at the library and just like to leave their trash on the shelves.”

Alvarez commented, “There’s a lot of kids that are in their cars trying to dispose of trash, and they’ll just drop it out of the car. Bathrooms are also really bad because kids just don’t know how to throw stuff away. Instead, they just want to leave it in the sink, the counter, in the stalls…”

Students leave trash behind most often during breaks, like brunch and lunch.

Lauren DeNormandie, a teacher in the Zen Den, said, “We have a brunch period and that gets the most litter. It’s when people come into the Zen Den the most.”

Tillson added, “Probably, the key time is during lunch time. If I don’t get on my microphone and remind students to pick up after themselves, litter gets way worse.”

Littering does not only affect the environment. “I think it affects your overall state of what we see as a campus,” said Olson. “The cleaner you see it, the more you want to be here, the more other kids want to come here. So then, I think we have to think about the overall mental process here.”

DeNormandie commented, “The Zen Den is supposed to be a place for students to come to either study, relax, or take tests. Litter definitely affects their ability to concentrate, so we try to keep it as clean as possible.”

To help fix this issue, Tillson encouraged adopting a mindset more attentive of the environment. “Just developing an awareness of ‘Is my space the way it was when I got here?’ would be better. ‘Is it the same as when I arrived? Let’s leave the space the way I found it, or better.’”

Lindsay Park is a sophomore and in her first year in journalism. She is interested in writing about psychology and current events. In her free time, Lindsay likes to hang out with friends, play oboe, and draw.

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