Taldi Walter thought it would take only a couple of months to organize a campus-wide recycling program. Two-and-a-half years later, she began to wonder if all the work she put into it was really worth it. Now, as Walter approaches the end of her college career she is finally seeing the program come together and because of her dedication, the Arkansas Recycling Coalition recently recognized her as the Individual of the Year.
Walter, a senior environmental science-biology major, became more involved with recycling after she enrolled at UCA. She couldn?t believe such a large university didn?t have any type of recycling program, so she set out to educate students and convince them on how clean and easy recycling could be. Walter said, ?It was a personal motivation to improve our campus environment.?
Debbie Plopper, special projects coordinator at the Conway Recycling Department, nominated Walter for the recycling award. ?Walter has gone above and beyond the call of duty and her passion for this project is so contagious,? she said.
Walter was able to establish the first student-initiated, campus-wide recycling program with the help of student volunteers from Environmental Alliance, the UCA Department of Housing, and the Physical Plant. Now blue recycling bins with green bags can be found in every academic building on campus. Individuals can recycle paper, plastics, aluminum cans and cardboard.
While the means to recycle was available on campus, Walter still faced the challenges of educating the campus on what is recyclable and why they should care. In an effort to tackle those challenges, Walter and several other volunteers made magnets that list recyclables and pamphlets with recycling facts and statistics that were distributed to all of the resident halls on campus.
They also created give-away items such as cups and Frisbees with catchy recycling phrases such as ?Catch Onto Recycling.?
Walter?s long-term goal is to have a volunteer recycling coordinator in each resident hall.
To Walter, receiving recognition for her success stood for passion, patience and persistence. She said, ?One aluminum can really does make a huge difference.? If every student on campus recycled one can, that would equal 10,000 cans in just one day. This would be enough energy to watch television for 30,000 hours.
Walter?s was honored to receive the Individual of the Year award, but knows she couldn?t have done it without the support and encouragement from Plopper and the student volunteers. Walter said, ?Receiving the award was rewarding, but to me being able to see the program working is the biggest reward.?