We are gathering stories of all kinds regarding the effects of taking a tour of our Salt Lake Valley Landfill. If you have a story you would like to submit, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our first inspiring story come from entrepreneur, Michael Whitney:
Back in 2009 I was an enthusiastic student of Salt Lake Community College, president of the French Club, and a very engaged member of SLCC’s board of student service leaders, a group now known as “SLICE”. I have always been environmentally conscientious, and after having seen many documentaries like The Human Footprint, An inconvenient Truth, and Six Degrees Could Change the World, in conjunction with a study of the greenhouse effect and global warming in my “GEOG 1700 – Natural Disasters & Environment Field Study” class, I was aware of the seriousness of the situation and felt that I had a personal moral responsibility to do more to advance conservationism on our only planet.
I spoke with multiple people at Salt Lake Community College, asking why there wasn’t more recycling and was emphatically told that there was no funding for it, that it had been attempted before, and that it couldn’t be done. Thanks to Linnie Spor, “SLICE” had the opportunity to take a tour of the landfill and I was shocked to find that the 550-acre landfill was set to fill up in under 50 years! I wondered if we would end up having to dig the landfill back up to extract resources one day - I was very discouraged. The moment that pushed me over the edge though, was when I was walking into the Student Center and they were replacing the doors with automatic sliding ones, removing the carpet that was still fine in order to lay tile, and putting in some new small couches with signs saying, “Pardon our dust, your student fee dollars at work.” That was the moment when I knew there was indeed funding for recycling, and I was determined to make it happen.
I met with dozens of people. I met with Facilities and essentially asked, “What do you need? Tell me everything that you would need long-term, how many new employees, etc. Tell me everything that cannot be done, and I will take care of making it happen.” I rallied SLICE members, various student groups, and administrators to the cause, we collected over 3000 signatures (most accompanied with student numbers) on a petition to see more recycling. I made an appointment with the Student Fees Board, and presented the petition, the signatures, and gave a relatively doomsday-ish presentation about the need for change…right now.
All of these efforts ultimately added up to a $150,000 allocation of funding to sustainability by the institution. These funds were used to dramatically expand the receptacles around the campus, six new jobs were created for students who collected them, machinery for compacting was purchased, a new vehicle for moving the recyclables was purchased, etc. This is one of my great achievements in life. Because of the support of Facilities, the program is administered in such a way that it continues to grow, and serves as another example that each person can make a difference, that if we do the right things for the right reasons, our combined efforts add up, and that there may be hope for humanity yet if we make sustainability a priority, today.