More than 60 Southern Oregon University students and community members gathered on Oct. 21 for the ribbon cutting ceremony of SOU’s new recycling center, the cornerstone of a revamped campus recycling program.
David West, the program coordinator for the Native American Studies program on campus, blessed the center through a traditional Native American song and prayer.
“The idea of this center evolved out of a classroom project,” said West. “It was an opportunity for students to see just how much they could do.”
“There are a lot of good ideas, but they don’t ever come to fruition,” he added. “But this one has come to fruition.”
West explained that without the efforts of Misty Munoz, a former SOU student, the project would never have happened.
What originally started off as Munoz’s capstone project quickly evolved into something bigger; after securing funding for the program from the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University and receiving several grants from local organizations, Munoz and her team of volunteers put in 50 to 60 hours a week for two months over the summer renovating a former warehouse to act as a sorting room for the program.
“I realized the urgency for recycling here at SOU,” said Munoz. “There was no way I could have turned my back on this.”
Currently the center operates entirely on a volunteer basis, although there are plans to add paid student sorter positions and a recycling coordinator later this year.
Munoz said she hopes the recycling center will be the first of many steps towards SOU’s ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Munoz cited her daughter as a major factor in her work on the recycling center, hoping she will be able to grow up in a better world, but she also said the center will benefit society on the whole.
“It’s not just for my daughter,” she said. “It’s for your children, and your children’s children, and the next seven generations…I believe that anything can happen if you believe in it with your whole heart.”