Clark University is a school that’s entrenched in the principles of going green, being sustainable, and all those great, hippie ideals. That’s one of the reasons I love it here. However, actions speak louder than words, and Clark’s green reputation only gets it so many points. We’ve probably got more eco events and groups on campus than you can count. You can get your degree in environmental science, global environmental studies, and environmental and conservation biology. You can take courses like Sustainable Consumption and Production, Environmental and Social Epidemiology, and Environmental Ethics, or join some of the many eco-centric groups on campus, includingthe Clark Sustainability Initiative, the Ecological Representatives, or the Global and Environmental group.
Somehow, despite all of these initiatives around campus, there’s still a disconnect between ideology and practice. Waste Management supplies cardboard bins on each floor of every dorm on campus. Throughout the year, students casually discard unwanted items of clothing. In the past, other students were the only ones taking advantage of this. Last year the Clark Thrift Store started up. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of having a thrift store on campus, especially one so easily accessible to the surrounding Worcester community, but now they’re the ones who supposedly get first dibs on what gets tossed in the bins.
This wouldn’t be such a huge deal if Clarkies didn’t use these bins as a dumping ground at the end of the semester. After I’m done with finals, I always make a point to grab the largest bags I can find and set out on a campus-wide haul. Over the past three years here, I’ve snagged some Armani pants, leather jackets and boots, brand name shirts with the tags still on, decorations, and Clark apparel that usually goes for upwards of $40.
One of the funniest things I ran across was a slew of textbooks that sold at the bookstore for around $20. Yep, someone threw out their textbooks instead of getting some money back. I know the Clark bookstore is notorious for either not accepting your buy-backs or giving you next to nothing for them, but come on!
This year was just as ridiculous. Piles of trash (including unused rolls of paper towels and perfectly eatable food items) accumulated outside the dorms as students were moving out, feeling free to toss out their bulletin boards full of eco-friendly stickers and buttons as they went. There were also trashcans, rugs, and enough mattress pads and bedding for you to reenact The Princess and the Pea.
I find it both sad and disturbing to see so much waste on campus each semester. At least the Clark Thrift Store will be using it, but still… Are we really that lazy and materialistic? I can only imagine it’s even worse at schools that don’t even give off the impression of being environmentally conscious.
I’ll keep scouring the bins and stocking up on free clothes. Thanks, Clark!