By Rachel Berning
City College’s Zero Waste Club has emphasized their dedication to the environment by organizing a campus cleanup to take place every Wednesday in order to keep the area around Ocean campus more tidy.
During the cleanup, several participants focused their attention to the area South of the Multi Use Building (MUB). Student club leader, Jacqui Winsor, motivated the group through implementation of a relay race competition, declaring the winner whomever was able to pick up the most trash.
According to National Geographic’s Resource Library, there are five or six “huge plastic islands called Gyres” in the middle of Oceans around the planet. Gyres “are made of micro plastics. Plastic does not break down for thousands of years. They do break down into tiny particles and that’s how we know it is getting into our fish.”
Living so close to the Pacific Ocean, many Zero Waste Club members believe San Franciscans have a greater responsibility to prevent ocean pollution. “When cigarettes blow into the water it is extremely toxic,” said Winsor.
A study by researcher Bradford Harris in 2011 found that “4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded each year worldwide, making them the most littered item on Earth.”
By the end of the trash relay race, participants in the cleanup had gathered three jars of cigarette butts and four bags of trash to sort through for recyclables.
“The more people we can get to join us, the more our school can focus on sustainability and catch up with other schools around the area. There are a bunch of community colleges that are better at promoting reusable or compostable material” said Jonathan Mehki, a member of the Zero Waste Club.
The club was started by students in Spring 2019 and has gained more attention this year, likely due to the rise in media coverage of ocean plastics. According to their club statement on City College’s website, their mission is to “enlighten students and faculty as to why our trash pollution is such a monumental, global issue and encourage them to make easy changes to cut back on plastic in order to reduce unnecessary human waste.”
This semester, the group is working to create a proposal for the college to implement a green fee for students, which would be a two dollar optional fee that would go towards sustainability efforts on campus.
“We are doing little things as a group of a few students. We want to change policies so we can get a bigger body so that the school can do better. Zero waste is the only active club on campus also trying to take on school policies as well” said club member Zoe Eichen.
Green Fee funds collected could potentially go towards solar panels on top of Batmale Hall, filtered water stations or basic clean up supplies.
The Zero waste club works closely with the Ocean Campus Recycling department to secure the supplies they need for their weekly cleanup. Winsor explained that the recycling department specializes in sorting recyclables in the cafeteria, but does not focus on cleaning up campus parking lots.
“It is not a janitor job” either, said Winsor. “It’s not even part of the job description to sort. There is a huge problem with our janitorial staff. There is not enough staff members and they are often contaminating,” said Winsor.
Winsor believes that if City College does not make it a priority to train janitors on sorting, the school may be getting fined due to recycling bin contamination by garbage.
Those interested in assisting in this week’s campus cleanup with the Zero Waste Club can meet next to the MUB on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.