School should pay for recycling

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

Manhattan Environmental Club (formerly known as Environmental Science Investigations) sent out an email to other MHS clubs on Jan. 15 asking for assistance in paying for recycling. Which, in previous years, which has been paid for through the club’s budget in previous years. 

But we on The Mentor Editorial Board are of the opinion that the responsibility of paying for recycling should not be on one student organization, or any students at all. Such a basic utility as recycling should be paid for by the school.

According to the email, the cost for both East and West campus recycling would be just $850 per year. Previously, the cost was covered by club dues. However, memberships have gone down in recent years, draining funds. That, combined with other efforts like composting and garden cleaning, paid for out of the club’s finances mean they haven’t been able to meet this year’s quota. 

First of all, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of a environmentally-aware group of students to pay for a service the whole school reaps the benefits of. All MHS students live in a less polluted world due to the efforts of recycling, but only a select few have to cover the cost. It doesn’t take rocket science to tell this is unfair. While it’s admirable that they have shouldered this burden for so long and MHS is certainly better off for it, just because their focus is the environment doesn’t mean it’s their job to clean up after everyone else and use their own funds to do so. MEC sponsor Clancey Livingston even used money out of his own finances to buy new tubs for teachers. Although this is all too common with other supplies among teachers, it’s still a level of dedication that shouldn’t be required. 

MEC wasn’t created to run school recycling and clean ups. The original concept of the club is to use their budget to investigate areas of the school that could be more environmentally friendly, such as water and electricity usage. With all funds going to basic necessities the club can’t do any actual investigations. It’s possible that if all the club has the time and money to do is run recycling not what it’s supposed to do they would see a decline in membership. As membership dues covered the cost, the cycle would continue to perpetuate the problem. 

Perhaps the most outraging aspect to this whole issue is that the school should have the funds to pay for recycling. Just as they don’t ask for a Plumbing Club to pay the water bill, an Electricity Investigations Club to pay to keep the school heated and lighted, they shouldn’t rely on clubs to pay for recycling. If they pay for a trash service, recycling should be part of it. 

The job of the school is to prepare us for a successful future. It seems like a successful future would ideally not be filled with waste plastic and other materials. With that in mind, the school should be encouraging or even prioritizing recycling rather than putting it below trash on the list of expenses. 

According to Livingston, the school doesn’t pay for recycling because it would complicate paying the janitorial staff. Adding recycling to their contacts and paying the extra for it should be a cost the school covers. If  they can’t, that attests to an incredible lack of funding that needs to be addressed. Instead of covering the cost, they exploit environmentally-aware students. 

The work MEC has been doing during recent years to run the recycling program should be appreciated, but the funding needs to start coming from the school not out of student’s pockets, whether that be the MEC students as they have for years or the finances of other clubs.