Eastern’s ‘Trash Man’: Student picks up litter, trash all over campus

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

A McDonald’s plastic cup, some pieces of paper, a bottle cap and a condom wrapper were some of the things junior history major Brian Welch picked up and threw away on his commute to the Taylor Hall Dining Center Monday night.

This is not the first time Welch picked up trash on campus.

“Every single day I’m going to classes I pick up five or six pieces,” Welch said. “It’s not just (going to) class (when I pick up garbage), lunch, whenever I go out I just pick up garbage.”

Welch called it his personal policy to pick up trash, something he says not many people do. He said he also just likes seeing a clean campus.

“I’m just so sick and tired of seeing people litter,” Welch said.

In an article titled, “Littering in Context: Personal and Environmental Predictors of Littering Behavior,” published in the Sage Journals in 2011, a large-scale study was conducted to analyze littering behavior in Americans.

The article defines litter as, “any piece of misplaced solid waste,” which can range from small items like cigarette butts or candy wrappers to abandoned cars.

Welch did not pick up any cigarette butts on this trip, but he did pick up several wrappers and pieces of paper and a handful of plastic bottles and cups.

After picking up what he could in the South Quad before going to dinner, there were still a number of plastic bottles and scraps of paper that remained.

According to the article, findings were reported from coded observations of 9,757 individuals (this number includes those who discarded cigarette butts) at 130 outdoor public locations in the United States who littered.

Observations for the study were made throughout the day, and of the 8,990 people who were observed (this number reflects those who did not throw away cigarette butts), 4 percent littered, 17 percent improperly disposed of their litter and 1 percent used the recycle bin.

This was in 2011. In 2017, the National Geographic reported that 91 percent of plastic is not recycled and instead is disposed of improperly or not disposed of at all.

This is why Welch separated the plastics from the rest of the trash.

“It upsets me,” Welch said in response to how he feels when he sees trash spread throughout campus. “It’s not like garbage cans are hard to find. If you’re too lazy to pick up your own garbage, why are you even going here?”

When asked if anyone approaches him asking about his garbage pickup and why he does it, Welch said no and that it does not bother him.

“I just kind of do it,” Welch said. “I don’t care if people know or not.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].