Overeager Sustainable-Living Students Recycle Tissues During Peak Cold Season

VANDERSLICE HALL — As the residential population of Boston College enters the final stretch of cold season, there are many visible signs of a campus’ winter-long struggle with sniffs and sneezes. Dining hall soup reserves are at an all time low, and half-empty Nyquil bottles sit in every medicine and alcohol cabinet. More alarmingly, hundreds of dorm garbage cans have been overflowing with used tissues for months. It is not a pretty time for Chestnut Hill nor Mother Earth.

However, new student-led efforts are spreading public awareness of this tissue paper environmental crisis: community members of the Sustainable Living program (housed on the sixth floor of Vanderslice Hall) have started their own unique initiative to limit the size of their “Kleenex footprint” through these difficult times. Making use of the slogan “Join the cause, Blow your Schnoz,” the CleanEarth Kleenex program looks to reduce paper waste by having its members share tissues throughout the winter months.

“My heart breaks every time I pass a bin full of tissues with perfectly dry corners that a sniffling martyr could still make use of,” admitted community resident Penelope Vista (MCAS ‘19). “People don’t think about it often, but facial tissue is the eleventh-largest contributor to paper waste in the United States. Naturally, it’s up to the Sustainability program to do something about this, we’re sick and tired of careless college students blowing their noses at important environmental issues.”

The rules of the new tissue recycling program are simple: for the entirety of winter, each eight-person suite receives one box of tissues per month. Participants are forced to ration the precious sheets, with many students developing additional tactics such as holding back their heads in order to hold in mucus for longer, and even forgoing tissue use altogether.

Any community member found using more than their allotted share of tissues is swiftly removed from program and relocated to a single in Greycliff Hall. James Netzer (MCAS ’19) is another CleanEarth Kleenex participant, and he explained that the system hasn’t been without its own share of problems. “A few weeks ago, one of the guys in the suite down the hall was caught blowing his nose into a wad of toilet paper in a Fulton bathroom; he hasn’t been seen on the floor since.”

Many rooms have gotten quite creative with the assignment over the course of the winter. Wandering into a random sixth floor suite, one might find a clothesline blanketed in dozens of questionable tissues awaiting their re-use, each embroidered with their owner’s name. Netzer, a particularly radical conservationist, has decided to use only two tissues per month, strategically placing one in each nostril to stop the flow. “Honestly, it hasn’t been all that burdening,” the Environmental Studies major said with a nasally tone. “There have been multiple nights where I’ve passed Late Night with no temptations because I just can’t smell those delicious chicken fingers. Mother Earth has her own special way of giving back to those who treat her right.”

At press time, the living community’s good deeds had inspired many students around campus to join in making the CleanEarth Kleenex pledge, with some students going as far as to extend the program to toilet paper consumption as well.


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