Without negatively affecting the quality of life, Rome campus cuts plastic use by 30%

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Photo by Patrick Vitale

Following an involved recycling program implemented by the Italian government last fall, Dr. Peter Hatlie, Rome program director, hopes to reduce the use of plastic on the Due Santi campus this year by 30%. 

“We wouldn’t have done it by ourselves, which is sad,” Hatlie said. 

The Italian government rolled out a new recycling program and sent engineers and representatives to measure the consumption of the campus. The recycling program started last fall. Each dorm is given six bins for the different types of garbage created by consumers. 

Hatlie plans to implement new changes that affect the Cap Bar, Mensa and laundry room. 

The changes will reduce plastic consumption without negatively affecting the quality of life on campus, said Hatlie.

“I’m compiling a list of things I want done in the Cap Bar and they are working on that right now,” said Hatlie. 

“And then the same thing with the Mensa. I don’t think that I can get into the students’ private lives too much except incentive type of things.” 

At the Monday night meeting on Sept. 9, Hatlie held up a piece of floss and asked the student body where he should dispose of it. After promoting the recycling system, Hatlie asked the crowd how they felt about free laundry detergent in exchange for not buying their own scents. The students’ response was very  positive. 

Hatlie’s motivation came from “looking at [his] own use of plastic and hearing really apocalyptic news reports about how much plastic is in the ocean.”

After reflecting on his family’s use of plastic, Hatlie said, “multiply that by 120 people here, we really have to do something.” 

“We do 75,000 meals here a year, so if we could reduce the plastic it would be great,” Hatlie said. 

Hatlie referenced Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ as validity for his cause. 

“[Pope Francis] had a little category about our disposal of waste, the fact that the planet is our brother, is our sister. You can take it in the wrong way, ‘oh that’s just a little fairy tale’ but I do feel that that there’s a moral obligation we have as well.” 

“The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life,” Pope Francis writes in the second encyclical, also called On Care for our Common Home

“This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” 

Hatlie’s efforts are just beginning. He hopes to do more as time goes on.

“Give people one issue and give me one issue and once we do a better job on that, maybe if I’m still the director two years from now, maybe we can do a little bit of a better job on the use of paper,” Hatlie said. 

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