Senior proposes bringing European recycling system to Topeka

The Business Building is home to the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship. (Jordan Koster | Collegian Media Group)

The novel coronavirus pandemic has presented massive ramifications in just about every area, from the economy to garbage pickup. In the middle of all this, one Kansas State senior is focusing her efforts on creating a more sustainable future.

Alexsis Garles, senior in entrepreneurship, is seeking feedback on a proposal she created this semester, which would place recycling machines in Topeka.

“My specific goal is just to bring awareness to how everyone can very easily contribute to saving the Earth by recycling,” Garles said.

The recycling machines proposed by Garles are based on systems in place in Europe that pay people to recycle.

“I got the idea for the proposal after going to Europe this past summer,” Garles said. “They have a lot of recycling machines like the ones I have proposed, and they use them all the time. Most of the ones in Europe are in grocery stores and give money in the form of grocery vouchers back once you’ve deposited cans and bottles.”

The proposal was originally a class project, but to Garles, it has transformed into something more.

“This is a proposal I am having to write for English 417,” Garles said. “However, after going through the process of writing the proposal, I am considering making this a legitimate project either this summer or once I graduate in December.”

Garles’ proposal would implement these recycling machines in areas where people experiencing homelessness live.

“To be honest, I believe that everyone benefits from recycling.” Garles said. “If they are getting money back for it I think it gives more incentive. The government will have a huge gain, as I’ve found out through my research recycling greatly benefits the economy.”

In 2018, a Topeka Rescue Mission point-in-time count found 419 people experiencing homelessness. The next year, that number was 441, with 16 percent under the age of 18.

Garles said she started researching the topic after learning about sustainable development goals in her social entrepreneurship class.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a global blueprint through a list of 17 goals built toward creating a prosperous future. One target of the agenda is Responsible Consumption and Production, which aims to promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.

Even during a pandemic, Garles said she finds it important to continue to plan for the future in any way she can.