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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Litter should be a priority for everyone on campus


Actions like going out of your way to pick up a piece of litter could make a big difference if more students do it. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

With more than 40,000 students at the University of Houston comes an equally large amount of trash that is created. Most of it goes where it belongs. But sometimes, we litter.

Trash bins outside overflow or some people forget to throw away their trash and leave it sitting on a table. Students occasionally forgetting to clean up after themselves is OK. However, sheer laziness and failure to do something as simple as cleaning up after yourself is inexcusable.

My dad works at a university. The first time I went to work with him when I was little, we walked around the campus. He stopped to pick up small pieces of litter and deposited them in the trash even though that wasn’t his job at the college.

As a small, naive child, I figured everyone was the same way about keeping the areas they worked at or lived in clean.

When I grew older, I realized this was not the case.

University students should take a more proactive stance by picking up litter that they see lying around campus. It beats trying to convince people who don’t care about where they leave their trash of how uncool of a practice that is.

Even though it may seem unfair, it’s a reality that appearances are everything. Our campus is a direct reflection of our community. It is the first thing that visitors to the campus witness and make judgments off of.

Imagine: Students stop to pick up the garbage, placing it in the provided recycling and waste dispensers, and visitors and prospective students see it. That would speak volumes to them about how much students care about our campus.

Keeping our campus clean and beautiful is not something that should only fall upon the shoulders of the custodial staffs. It costs us nothing to lend a hand if we’re walking through campus and spot a piece of garbage tangled up in a few blades of grass. Keeping our campus clean is an obligation that we all have to each other.

If you see trash, stop and pick it up.

Thanks to the dense spread of garbage cans throughout campus, inside and outside buildings, it should only take a few extra moments to dispose of any garbage or litter picked up.

There really isn’t an excuse for not being able to throw things away.

Don’t take this as some sort of crusade to spend copious amounts of time picking up trash to make our campus spotless. Take it as a call to be a proactive human being while you walk to class. I saw a lot of posts about Earth Day from many of my friends on social media — let’s take the words we have about caring for our beautiful planet and turn them into actions.

It’s a good habit to develop and carry out for others to replicate. Be the change that you want to see in the world and serve as a role model for others to follow.

So next time you see a candy wrapper or a disposable cup or a plastic bag on the ground, pick it up and deposit it where it belongs: in the trash. Imagine the big changes that would happen if everyone partook in little things like that.

Opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected].


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