Last year, Pope Francis published his second papal encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” with the subtitle, “On Care for our Common Home.” In it he discusses the Christian duty to take every measure to care for creation and speaks against consumerism and technological advances that have no concern for the earth.
In this groundbreaking encyclical that argues from religious as well as scientific standpoints, a universal call to action was made to all people so that global warming may be recognized and an international effort made to maintain the beauty of our world.
Yet many local communities seem to have conveniently ignored the pope’s call for practical change in our everyday lives. And the University of Dallas campus is no different.
Ever since former and current UD students sought to bring a reliable program of recycling to campus, the system seems to have only struggled and deteriorated, though not from lack of use. Many recycling bins around campus, including those located in the student apartments, can often be found overfilled with recyclables, leaving more trash strewn across the ground. Not only does this degrade campus aesthetics, but it also shows a significant demand for recycling services that are not being met.
Ultimately, the somewhat dysfunctional system of recycling on campus reflects an overall attitude of environmental concern that is halfhearted. It seems that most members of the UD community are content with (or don’t notice) the lack of improvement since the program was first implemented three years ago.
Of course, part of this attitude is understandable: with school work, sports and other commitments, it’s not surprising that recycling is not at the top of everyone’s list of priorities — and I’m certainly not claiming to be any better about this issue myself.
However, with Pope Francis’ encyclical in mind, it is clear that positive change in the way we recycle or reuse would be beneficial to the UD campus as a Catholic institution heeding the call of the Holy Father.
It’s easy to blame this lack of environmental concern on the administration, and there is no doubt that many logistical issues can only be managed by the higher-ups. From degraded campus aesthetics, to poor coordination with municipal recycling companies, to insufficient funding for major program improvements, the seeming ambivalence on the part of the UD administration is problematic. If no interest is shown on the part of the student body, then it’s not surprising it is also at the bottom of the administrative list.
If improving the system of recycling on campus is something that students want, then students will have to make it happen. After all, a concerned student started the program in existence in the first place.
And recycling isn’t the only thing each of us can do to help. Simply by reusing plastics or reducing waste in general, the student body can show interest in the environmental impact of the UD community, facilitating further development of recycling on campus as a whole.
In the end, we will all have to do our part to bring about any sort of change. As Pope Francis explains in “Laudato Si’,” every human being has a duty to care for the world.
While one person may start the work, it will ultimately require a community-wide effort to bring about a real development in the way we live the pope’s recent call to environmental action. Of course, this call doesn’t stop at recycling. It involves care for every aspect our world, whether it’s the impoverished, the disadvantaged or the polluted.
I think we can all agree that the efforts of the UD community to follow this call have been insufficient.
When will we notice? How will we decide to take action?