March 9, 2010

Sustainability Hub Aims to Improve Collegetown Trash Cans

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After a few shots at a Collegetown bar, Cornellians sometimes have trouble placing their trash inside the suitable garbage or recycling receptacle — instead often opting for the surrounding sidewalk or street.

The Sustainability Hub’s yearlong effort to remedy this problem and to improve the environmental efficacy of Collegetown trash cans brought the organization to speak in front of the Collegetown Neighborhood Council yesterday, where Chelsea Clarke ’10 informed assembled local leaders that “things [are] moving really fast.”

Clarke fielded some questions from concerned local leaders, who raised concerns about the trash being collected and about new trash being created by the new cans.

Clarke responded that the city had agreed to continue its previous operations of picking up the trash “four to five times a week,” although she acknowledged “the problem lies … when they don’t get picked up over the weekend.”

With the help of committee co-chair and former City of Ithaca Alderperson Mary Tomlan ’71, Clarke also responded to the worry that streamlined garbage receptacles might simply attract more garbage from local residents and thus flood the streets.

Tomlan responded that Clarke had specifically chosen the cans to “discourage household trash.”

In her presentation, Clarke outlined how, although the club is still seeking the requisite funding to purchase the cans, they had been recently approved by the Board of Public Works.  She said that the club is looking for money for the cans from the IFC and elsewhere, and that she was open to suggestions from the council, though not many were forthcoming.

Clarke added that part of the garbage can project includes a public contest in which local artists and Cornell students can submit artwork to adorn the sides of the garbage cans.  The artists whose rendition is selected for the garbage can will win a prize to be determined.

Tomlan commended the efforts of the organization, saying that she’s “been following [the club’s campaign] for months.”

“They know more about trash cans than you’d believe,” Tomlan said.

Co-chair Gary Stewart, who is Cornell’s assistant director of University and community relations, seconded Tomlan’s sentiment. “I can’t believe students [are] bringing trash cans to help the private sector,” he said.

But Stewart stressed that what Clarke was trying to accomplish was “really important” — “student success story” about affecting change in the community.

Original Author: Jeff Stein