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Clean Harvard's Act

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

GARBAGE barges, hypodermic needles, toxic waste and other pollutants washing up on American shores have filled the nation's consciousness with a frightening vision of the earth's future. What can our community can do on a smaller scale to combat these environmental threats? The College's recent support of small-scale student recycling effort is a start.

Harvard's plan, which is at best a modest proposal, calls for the University to donate a van one day a week to pick up students' used newspapers at houses and freshmen dorms. The program broadens the reach of a year-old Phillips Brooks House-sponsored project where students spend two hours each Saturday filling PBH vans with newspapers.

This year's recycling is off to a good start. Last week the project recycled one-and-a-half tons of paper, three times as much as last year's average. So far only one-third of the houses and dorms participate. All should join in the effort.

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THE University has embarked on solutions to other environmental problems. The presence of asbestos in many Harvard buildings prompted a major effort at William James Hall to remove and seal off insulation. Harvard discovered the problem and took some corrective measures; experts brought in by Harvard say the University's clean-up has largely worked. While many Harvard buildings may contain unsafe levels of asbestos, the University has shown a willingness to address the problem.

But other environmental concerns remain unaddressed. The University does not make public whether radon gas, an invisible cancer-causing agent, is a problem in Harvard buildings as it is in the basements of many homes nationwide. Despite campus agitation to remove styrofoam cups from the dining halls, the University continues to use the non-biodegradable materials.

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When one considers global warming and nuclear waste, these issues pale in comparison. But environmental problems occur on all levels and this campus has a responsibility to do what it can to attack the problems it causes. Then, at the very least, Harvard will be doing its part to ensure that this campus is still around for another 350 years.

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