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WESTMINSTER - The seeds that green-minded crusaders planted during Earth Day '90 hoopla earlier this year have taken root at Western Maryland College, where a campus-wide recycling program kicked off this month.

The first phase of the college-sponsored program includes the collection and recycling of aluminum cans, computer paper, newspapers and magazines. Bins have been placed on campus to collect the items, said Mel Whelan, WMC's building services coordinator.

"The response has been very good so far," Whelan said. "We're very pleased. Student groups have pitched in and handed out fliers to let people know about the program."

Students have run their own recycling program -- handling mostly aluminum cans -- for some time. After extensive planning, the college has joined the crusade, buying and placing additional bins around campus and using the housekeeping staff to pick up materials.

After pickup, the items are dumped in four-component bins like those used by the County Department of Public Works, which paid half the $5,000 cost of the bins and transports them for dumping at Phoenix Recycling in Finksburg. Because of that service, the county keeps any profits from the sale of aluminum cans to recyclers.

Whelan said his staff will operate the recycling program year-round. He said his staff has been enthusiastic about helping the county toward its goal of recycling 15 percent of its trash by 1994.

"By recycling, we're keeping it out of the landfill and it's great for the environment," he said.

Student groups who want to make money by recycling aluminum products may request specially labeled drums from the physical plant, he said.

Philip R. Sayre, dean of student affairs at WMC and chair of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Matters, said the college has begun using recycled paper in most college brochures, literature and catalogs.

"There's been a strong effort to use recycled paper for those products," Sayre said.

In addition, the college purchases such recycled products as paper towels and toilet paper, he said.

The second phase of WMC's program, which will include the purchase of another four-component bin, will be expanded to include the recycling of large tin cans used in the dining hall, amber and clear glass, plastic and cardboard. That phase is expected to begin next September.

Meanwhile, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the group that has pushed for environmental programs on campus, has started its own recyclables collection program for some items not being recycled under the first phase of the campus program.

To help promote the campus program, students recently dressed up as pieces of trash and "Captain Recycle" to spread the word to students and faculty.

Much of the environmental success on campus rests with the student coalition, which formed about two years ago. It garnered media attention last spring with a march on Annapolis to call attention to the growing garbage crisis.

The coalition was the driving force behind the elimination of plastic foam product use in the dining hall. It also was successful in pushing administrators to revise WMC's printing policy to require copying on both sides of the paper.

"This has really been a positive indication of what students can do when they put their minds to it," said Meeghan Ziolkowski, co-leader of the the coalition.

The Westminster native, who is pursuing a degree in religious studies and philosophy, said that it has taken more than students to accomplish the job. She credited faculty and administrators for their interest and cooperation.

Noting that interest in the coalition is as strong as ever, Ziolkowski said her group will continue to pursue practical, day-to-day changes on campus to improve the environment.

In efforts to stymie the endless paper flow, administrators also are looking at a new communications system that would allow staff to send messages by computer, instead of on paper, and a paper-conservation program.

"The real answer to saving the environment is conservation," said biology professor Esther Iglich, a member of the advisory committee and an adviser to the coalition. "Memos are an incredible waste of paper. We need to cut down on paper (use)."

Despite the apparent success, Iglich, who teaches environmental courses to both science and non-science majors, said the environmental message is just beginning to reach many students and faculty.

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