Friday, July 17, 2009

Diane English – On Recycling

Diane English – Administrative assistant, History, Alumni Hall
Interview by Gergana Mouteva ’09, Colgate Sustainability Intern (SI)

Diane English is particularly interested in recycling. She not only practices recycling at all possible levels in her personal life, but also goes beyond her own space and tries to collect every plastic that she sees – on the street, in the gym, at the grocery store – everywhere. She is passionate and dedicated to this cause and she tries to make recycling at Colgate more efficient.

When I met her for this interview, she was coming back after her noon swim in the Lineberry Natatorium and she was carrying two bags – one full of plastic bottles, and one full of plastic bags. “This is what I found on the way to the gym and I just couldn’t leave it there” is what she told me before she introduced herself.

SI: Why is recycling important to you?

Diane: There are just so many reasons. For me, recycling is part of caring about our world and making sure that there is something left for the people who will come after us. I just hate seeing waste when people can make use of it. Recycling is so beneficial.

SI: How did you first get interested?

Diane: My interest evolved with time. As I learned what I could do, I got more and more involved – at home, at work, everywhere. I like reusing things that are in good condition.
I also walk a lot – I have a dog and we go for long walks every day, where I would pick up all the trash that I see. I started taking different roads each time, thus collecting more and more trash and stuff to recycle. In that way, I get to clean different areas, and the area around where I live, I keep absolutely spotless. It is surprising and rather horrifying how littered the country roads actually are.

SI: In what other ways do you incorporate sustainability in our life?

Diane: My main source of heat is wood-heat. I have a permit for few areas where I can go and pick up tree waste. In that way, I stay warm and I clean at the same time, and I also save money, by not using fuel. It does take a bit of work, but physical activity is good for people’s health.
I do a lot of thrift shopping too.

SI: Does sustainability change your lifestyle and is it hard to practice it?

Diane: Trying to live sustainably makes me feel more natural. It is a little time consuming, but it is definitely worthwhile. Doing little things that are good makes you feel good about life and about yourself – it makes you a better person.
What bothers me is that when I pick the plastic bottles and bags, which are lying on the ground, littering the streets, I get the oddest looks from people. They look at me like I am weird, and I can’t help but wonder - why does doing something good have to make one look weird?!

SI: What advice would you give to people who would like to do more about recycling and sustainability?

Diane: Looking at what others are doing is the easiest way to see what you can do yourself. If at the end of the day you take a moment to reflect what you have seen – both good and bad, I think this can make a difference.

Don’t be ignorant!

There is so much that people don’t care about, simply because they don’t know about it. Documentaries about waste, oceans, landfills, and wildlife had a huge impact on me. It made me incredibly sad to see how the plastic bags that we so irresponsibly throw everywhere are killing magnificent and endangered species as turtles for example.

We need to do the best we can, because it is up to us what we will leave behind us.
I personally carry with me two empty bags all the time. In that way, I can always pick up something on the way and make sure I don’t leave any plastic behind.

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