Apply the Standard

On my way home last week for Thanksgiving break, I bought a bottle of water in the airport before passing through security. Later, in the security line, I searched through my bag to find my school ID so that I could present it to the TSA security officers. I had only drunk about half of my water bottle when I was told—flatly—that I had to throw out the bottle before I could pass through security. I tried to drink the remainder of the water, but wasn’t able to. I was forced to throw out the bottle. I asked the officer if there was a recycling bin in which I could deposit my bottle, but I was told there weren’t any. The TSA doesn’t recycle. According to TSA officials, it is believed that recycling is outside of “their realm of responsibility” and that it should be at the discretion of each individual airport. Over four years ago, the TSA instituted the so-called “3-1-1” policy stating that each traveler can only bring one quart-sized plastic zip-lock bag containing liquids or gels in containers no larger than three ounces each through security. If airports began placing recycling bins instead of regular garbage cans at security checkpoints, over 2 tons of plastic would be saved in all airports nationwide, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Aside from the TSA thinking that recycling extends beyond their responsibilities, they are hesitant to place recycling bins at security because many travelers, like myself, would be recycling half full bottles. Someone would then need to go through all of these bottles, empty them, and then make sure they’re all recyclable. While this task certainly would be an onerous one, it will benefit our country in the long run. At Andover, we all try to do our part to recycle. It’s easy. There are bins in the gym, in academic buildings, outside Commons and in our dorms. We are encouraged to recycle because it is an efficient way to conserve energy, curtail CO2 emissions, reduce the size of landfills and more. Recycling is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to help preserve our planet. If airports could begin instituting similar rules, everyone would be able to easily recycle and we would begin to decrease the amount of plastic and other recyclable items that we discard into our landfills and oceans. At this rate, all of the plastic thrown out over the course of five years could fill a landfill the size of Manhattan. We can help out by recycling all of our empty bottles and making sure that others do the same. We can also begin writing a petition to start a mandatory recycling program at security checkpoints and send them to our local airports. Also, continuous demand for recycling bins will make the TSA realize that while the task of sorting and organizing is a burden, over time, recycling will be the only way out. Recycling, if taken seriously, is a little thing that everyone can do that will make a huge difference. Sammy Marrus is a new Lower from New York, New York.