University the Swan basks in the beauty of Millersville’s campus, wondering why people would want to ruin it by littering. KAT DELANEY / THE SNAPPER

Morgan Huber
Managing Editor

Millersville is renowned for its picturesque and scenic campus. With vast fields of green grass, colorful flower bushes, and an iconic pond, the college campus provides a sight for sore eyes when walking to classes or to the library. With something so beautiful naturally existing, it is a shame to see it be tarnished and disregarded by trash left in the fields, bushes, and on the street.

The discussion on littering seems like something that would be brought up only at an elementary school assembly because it is simple to avoid and something to be easily learned. Unfortunately, many appear to have forgotten what they learned all those years ago. I myself do not constantly worry about conserving and protecting the environment, but a recent event made me not only aware of Millersville’s abysmal littering problem but also concerned about how little students seem to care about their campus at times. 

Earlier this week, I was walking to the McNairy Library with a friend when we saw a slender little squirrel squatting in the front garden. Noticing its unusually slight frame, we were alarmed when we took a closer look to find a plastic ring, as in the ones typically used to hold together a six-pack of soda cans, wrapped around the poor creature’s waist. While we were unable to help her as she ran away, we felt appalled that the trash left behind was hurting the local wildlife.

This incident is just one example of the consequences of neglecting our environment. What is even more frustrating is that such an issue can easily be solved if we simply pick up and throw away our trash. Disposal bins stand in all of the campus buildings. Even if one is not within immediate reach, most students also carry backpacks, in which one could store the trash until they reach a place they can properly dispose of it.

Littering affects not only the campus but the local community as well.

“I feel that Millersville is a nice place to live, but the constant trash being thrown all over the place is really upsetting,” says Cale Rehm, a 21-year-old resident of the borough.

Rehm, who resides near the heart of Millersville’s “party central,” often finds empty cans, cups, and leftover takeout on his property from students walking between Cartledge “Cart” Lane, Brookwood, and Windsor Courts – also known as E-Courts – as they drunkenly and ignorantly disregard their garbage.
Rehm continues, “There’s often trash in my yard, including broken glass, which may tear up my dog’s feet. If college students expect to gain independence and experience adulthood, they need to take responsibility and clean up after themselves.”

Picking up one’s trash should not be something that young adults need to be reminded about, but unfortunately, that is the case. When we take the beautiful world around us for granted, it devolves into the garbage we are feeding it. By neglecting to clean up the streets, we also neglect to look after ourselves and those we care about.

“It is clear that there is no benefit to having litter in our environment and community,” says Kennedy Ross, president of the Sustainability Club at Millersville. “There are countless reasons to clean it up and eliminate it, but above all else, it harms our environment and the things that live in it. People may not think much of litter on the side of the road, but it can easily be carried by rain into a waterway, and harm the animals in it and access to clean drinking water.”

The Sustainability Club is a student-run organization that seeks to raise awareness about environmental issues, while also advocating to keep the world around us healthy and beautiful. Their work demonstrates that problems such as littering, climate change, and conservation are not simply a social media trend, but topics that need to be addressed by the public. 

One does not need to be the CEO of a non-profit or a celebrity climate activist to protect the environment. Conservation can be done through individual actions, whether that be cleaning up trash you see on the street, turning off the lights when you leave the room or reading about various environmental issues and topics. 

“Aiming to educate oneself is the way to go,” Ross explains. “I suggest starting with a topic you are already interested in, dive deeper into it, and branch your education further. Try to attend conservancy events, rallies to publicize environmental concerns, visit farms, volunteer for cleanup events, in order to help enact a further interest and passion for environmental concern.”

The library and the internet are both free, providing limitless educational resources. If one wants to take action to protect the environment, one may hold a recycling drive or adopt a highway. Numerous organizations at Millersville, ranging from academic and religious clubs to Greek life, participate in PennDOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program, where they claim a stretch of road to clean up at least once a semester. If you are involved in a campus organization, adopting a highway is not only a great opportunity to bond with your fellow club members but also a worthwhile way to serve the community and the environment. 

All of these and more are excellent ways to take responsibility and keep the campus beautiful. At the very least, you can toss your empty White Claw in the recycling bin.