Reduce, Rebooze, Recycle

by Jeff Fein

Commentary Editor

There is no “can guy” where I come from. I hail from a New York City suburb called Great Neck. You may know it as Fitzgerald’s West Egg. We’re way too snobby to have a “can guy.” We prefer “diamond guys” and “fine Persian rug guys.”

But I’m told that in more rural areas (Central New York, for example), there’s a man unofficially assigned to every few towns who picks up the aluminum waste of the locals and makes a living out of it. I was a little short on cash this week, so I decided to try my hand at cans.

Yesterday, I loaded six rattling full-sized Hefty bags into my car and headed for Wayne’s. One hour later, I was 32 dollars and 60 cents richer.

The sources of my income came from one raging Friday night townhouse party and a typical weekend’s worth of beirut in my University Courts apartment, a sliver of Colgate’s alcoholic consumption for the weekend. And here I am with almost enough money in my wallet to fill up at Mobil.

In the last two years, the SGA’s Budget Allocations Committee has run out of funds sometime around the second week of classes. This seems impossible at a school where yearly tuition is the cost of a good-sized yacht, but it is a reality that leaves just about every club on campus wondering what happened to its funding. (As a Dischord described the group’s troubles in paying for the recording of their CD, “It’s not that we have funding problems. It’s that our funds don’t exist.”) And forget having enough money left over to bring in a respectable band for Spring Party Weekend. In a flash, SPW has gone from being headlined by The Wailers to being headlined by Loincloth.

The crux of the problem is the absurd amount of clubs we have here, covering everything from social justice to uncomfortably spiritual dance routines (you go, Total Praise!). By and large, Colgate students are creative and interesting people who like to be involved in more than we can realistically handle. So the clubs aren’t going away, and the BAC will remain as bafflingly broke as M.C. Hammer. Something’s gotta give.

The answer, my friends, is cans. Seriously. We’re sitting on a gold mine here, or at least a nickel mine. I’m an English major, so my math might be a little fuzzy, but by my calculations, if I can make 32 dollars and change from the leftovers of a party and a few games of ‘ruit, in a semester this university could make – let’s see, carry the one — an ass-load of money.

Assuming 2,000 of Colgate’s 2,500 on-campus students drink five cans of beer in a weekend (and that’s a pretty safe bet), there are 10,000 beer cans just waiting to be refunded. That comes out to five hundred dollars every week, and over six thousand dollars a semester.

A can campaign won’t be pretty. By the time I was done recycling my stash, the can-crushing machine was beer-stained and disgusting, and so was I. Plus, the bags leaked a frightening substance that looked like chicken soup and rice all over the trunk of my car, which now smells somewhat like Sigma Chi after Derby Days. But these are problems that can easily be solved by double-bagging and long showers. It would be worth the trouble to cover the costs of all those club events we hold so dear to our hearts.

Incidentally, recycling is also good for the environment. By cutting into the tons of aluminum waste we generate in our weekly (or in some cases daily) revelry, we would be taking heaps of cans away from landfills and using the scrap metal instead to make…more cans. This reuse of materials is generally smiled upon, even by our government, which is why so many states give out monetary rewards for such activities. In effect, the state of New York can fund Lil Bow Wow’s appearance on Whitnall next SPW.

Better yet, if everyone can live with the current condition of BAC funding, we can donate the money to a cause even more pressing than getting a sweet band for SPW, something like genocide relief or fighting hunger in Madison County.

With SGA elections around the corner, presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls have staked their campaigns on things like lowering COOP prices, expanding e-mail space and getting us a third Cruiser. These are nice ideas (except for another Cruiser; that’s just excessive) but I would like to see the new student administration adopt grander visions for what Colgate can do. Outlandish as it may sound at first, an organized can-collecting campaign encompassing the dorms, the townhouses, the apartments and the Broad Street community could set Colgate apart as an environmentally savvy school with enough funds to meet its students’ needs and give a good chunk of money to a deserving endeavor on the side.

Think about it, SGA representatives: a greener, better funded, more socially conscious Colgate is just a recycling campaign away.