By Josh Elmer
I live by the laws of recycling: reuse, reduce, and recycle. Some people may call me a pack rat but I see my collection of clutter as sustainable. I make sure that when I have to get rid of something I can’t find a use for it or someone with a use for it. Sure, I can’t easily navigate my room, but my trash level has dropped from a half of a kitchen bag a day to a shopping bag a day.
Unfortunately, the art department doesn’t buy into my strategy. When students are done with their projects and don’t want them, the department tends to throw them away. To me this just seems like a silly idea. The art department seriously undercuts our school’s commitment to sustainability.
Student art is probably the most recyclable material on the planet. I could think of 100 uses for their unwanted projects. They could be great decorations for academic buildings, be used as wrapping paper for presents, or auctioned off as fundraisers.
Schools are naturally less sustainable than other places due to the enormous amount of paper that we are using for assignments and paperwork. I understand why other departments wouldn’t let their students reuse students’ academic work but the art is completely different.
Ithaca’s art department could save students’ work to be reused by other students. It would be like an Ithaca College version of Wikipedia’s art gallery. Students could pick from a barrel of royalty-free images they could cut up and incorporate into their own work, creating a new reusable aesthetic. The best part about this idea is that if that reused work gets reused again, the original work won’t be recognizable. The art actually decomposes and finds its way into other things. It reintegrates itself into the art department.
Even if the art department doesn’t follow through with this sustainable art bin, it would be better if they just recycled what they could instead of throwing it into the trash. As an artist, I would rather see the work I don’t want anymore help someone else get an A instead of end up in a landfill.