Organizations’ current way of advertising on campus is ineffective due to the amount of waste it creates and the resources it takes up. Students walk through the Quad and are bombarded with scraps of paper handed out left and right, which are sometimes dropped on the ground in plain sight. For many, it’s either walking through the Quad to get to class and mentally bracing oneself for the swarm of hands-in-faces or actively avoiding the area altogether, as many students do.
There could be paper recycling bins throughout the Quad along with the existing plastic recycling bins, which is one solution to the mayhem that the Quad can be, but recycling is a temporary fix to the greater issue at hand.
Recycling is only as effective as the market for recycled materials. Thousands of tons of recycled materials from the United States are tossed into landfills simply because it’s too difficult to find waste plants willing to process the materials, the New York Times reported last year. This shouldn’t deter people from recycling; it should motivate people to find alternatives to creating the potential for waste in the first place.
Students who pass through the Quad during busy tabling days often accept the fliers and papers handed to them while walking because it’s quicker than turning their fellow student down and it feels less harsh than plain ignoring them. While this non-confrontational method to the madness is the norm, the free goodies and papers that students wind up with are thrown in the nearest trash can.
Student organizations typically hand out bits of paper from their abundance of prepaid printing pages coming from each semester’s tuition; the other side of that coin is the low quality, mass-produced and wastefully ineffective swag given out during tabling days and other Texas State events.
American Campus Communities is one trust company that is often on campus giving away stress-balls and free sunglasses. Cups, key chains and t-shirts from housing and job fairs are common examples of free goodies only used once or twice by desperate college students that end up in a drawer before going to Goodwill or the trash. Cheap drawstring bags emblazoned with a company logo are helpful in a pinch, but students don’t need to be given half a dozen bags and even more cheap swag at every housing fair or career exhibition they attend.
Students need to be less afraid of coming off as callous in turning down advertisements that are handed in their direction. It’s not rude to turn down marketing products that are offered if one knows they won’t get enough use out of it to justify lugging it around for the rest of the day.
It’s only when enough people refuse these useless objects that large companies realize they’re wasting time and money in ordering the promotional merchandise and begin to taper down how much they buy.
Student organizations can think outside the box. While big apartment complexes can afford a marketing budget that leans away from waste that ends up in landfills, students running their own clubs can get creative with paper use.
Instead of mass-printing from the seemingly endless supply of pages in their Send-N-Print accounts, organizations should use old scraps of paper and hand-write the advertised social media handles instead of printing lines and lines of information.
Not only is it more convenient to keep track of events through Instagram and screenshots—not to mention fewer crumpled papers at the bottom of everyone’s backpack—but being mindful of how excessive humans can be and working to change individual practices is kinder to the planet.
– Naomi Wick is a journalism senior