We Cannot Dismiss Awareness

By: Breanne Guevara

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- Many college students have the opportunity to live in the dormitory housing that the institution provides. The idea of “away-ness” becomes exploited to the student when they live in dormitory housing because there are employees who are hired to clean up after the students. I am currently one of thousands of students who are provided with this luxury. Some of you may be thinking, what is “away-ness”? The concept is talked about by Timothy Morton and he defines this as, “Ecological awareness presents us with a disturbing fact. In ecological awareness, “away” has disappeared, because now…it just goes somewhere else.”

This is an example of the thinking that is embedded into the college student’s mind. Last weekend, I was in the bathroom taking a shower and I over-heard a couple of girls in the bathroom talking, seemed like they were going to a party. Seconds after, I heard a glass bottle hit the ground and break, shortly after the break one of the girls said, “Let’s just leave it, it will be clean by tomorrow.”

We need to eliminate this kind of thinking when it comes to our anthropological footprint. Many institutions worldwide hire employees who clean up after people on a daily basis. We throw away garbage into the trash and never think about it again. In a society that teaches people to base success off of material quantity, being aware of how much waste we produce is not relevant. Since University employees are hired to take the garbage away, clean the showers, toilets, and vacuum carpets, it is tuning students to not be mindful of how they treat the environment in which they live.

This is teaching students that whatever they dispose of will just “go somewhere else” or become someone else’s problem. As a part of the upcoming generation, our anthropological footprint only becomes larger with the more responsibilities we take on in life. Although a single footprint does not seem impactful, making a fraction of the 7 billion people who live on earth more aware of “away-ness” can snowball into a greater result. As students, we need to be more aware of the fact that nothing we throw out actually goes “away,” if we keep this thought in mind then we can get a grip on how much waste we actually produce.

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