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PSA: Updated solar compactors around campus

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FEBRUARY 02, 2018

As we all know, UC Berkeley is famous for being an extremely liberal campus, and its trash cans are no exception. Often, we find ourselves unsure of where to throw our garbage, because we have so many trash cans on campus. Most of us have also probably found ourselves struggling to figure out where to throw our plastic bag when there are only compost and mixed paper bins as options.

Despite the initial struggle, we’ve all grown used to having all the options for throwing away our waste. The biggest issue with many trash cans, especially the solar compactors, is the fact we have to open them with our own hands. And before you roll your eyes and think, “Oh wow, your life must be so hard. Touching trash cans with your BARE HANDS??! That must be such a struggle for you,” hear us out. College students are busy and haul a lot back and forth on campus. Sometimes we don’t have an extra hand to open up the can. They’re also just gross, and we don’t want to touch them. If you disagree and actually like touching trash cans, we’re not sure what to tell you. To each their own.

Yes, the problem is small, but it’s still a problem nonetheless. Recently, I was sitting with a friend at the Free Speech Movement Cafe having a conversation when she got this shocked look on her face. She pointed at something behind me, so I turned and saw a girl throwing her trash away, but instead of holding the solar compactor open with her hands, she was holding it open with…her foot! I was shocked. Had this little step on the compactors always existed and I was just too blind to notice? Was this new? My friend and I pondered these questions for a bit, baffled at what we had just witnessed.

After wandering around campus some more, I realized that every solar compactor I came across now had a little step on it for an easier opening experience. I asked some of my friends if they had known about the steps before, and every response I got was a no. Clearly, this new or just unnoticed phenomenon needed to be shared with everyone — hence this very important PSA.  

These waste bins use solar energy to compact the recycling, landfill waste and mixed paper we throw into them, and they’re designed to keep wildlife out. They reduce the amount of waste that spills out, making the landscape cleaner. There’s some conversation around the fact that they make it difficult for homeless people to collect bottles and cans. No matter what your opinion is on them, we have to put our trash somewhere, and it was considerate of the school to make it more convenient for us to open the solar compactors. So far, we’ve spotted them by FSM and Kroeber Hall, but there are none on the compactors outside Dwinelle nor on Sproul.

So, keep an eye out for more of these helpful solar compactors popping up around campus! As much as we like to joke about the struggles of not knowing the right can to place our trash in, having compost, recycling and mixed paper options rather than just a landfill option is an important step in a more green direction. Just like this little change in how we open solar compactors, it’s the little things that make big changes in the environment. We hope that by raising awareness of this new development on campus, you’ll all feel less icky and much happier! Stay green, Bears!

Contact Sunny Sichi at [email protected].

FEBRUARY 02, 2018