COVID-19 has resulted in a multitude of different effects upon the psyche: stress of the unknown, grief of normality, and isolation induced loneliness. Baylor students have not been spared from the mental stressors of the pandemic but are also experiencing a curious new symptom of the trying times. This new side effect must be blamed for the recent spate of incidents concerning the missing lunch containers, commonly referred to as clamshells.
The clamshells have been disappearing left and right, some being found in bushes, bathrooms, and even down the road. The side effect in question? Laziness. Baylor students who have long been regarded as hard working, athletic, and caring, apparently cannot walk the extra steps to return their containers after lunch. When presented with the absurdity of this issue, only one culprit could be blamed: not a consumerist culture or a lack of care for the environment, but COVID-19.
The dining hall has spent tireless efforts organizing a lunch system that is COVID safe, low waste, and cost effective. Despite the determined efforts to reduce waste at lunch, the case of the missing clamshells is pushing the dining hall to have to return to styrofoam lunch containers. In all seriousness, the dining hall staff has been asked to take on numerous challenges this year, one of them being the problem of carrying out an efficient and environmentally friendly lunch process. The staff has put in extra time, effort, and brain power into ensuring that students receive great meals in an effective manner, but alas, the work of the dining hall has been overlooked by many students.
The results of student’s laziness are causing not only the dining hall’s efforts to be jettisoned, but also damage to the environment. With the clamshells, by the end of the year Baylor would have saved over 187,200 styrofoam containers from ending up in a landfill. This is no small feat. As students of a reputable institution like Baylor, we are asked to use our privilege for the better. By simply taking the few extra seconds to return the clamshells, students would be helping better Chattanooga’s environment. Instead, we are sacrificing our own community’s land due to the apparent incapability to return our lunch containers to their designated areas.
The pandemic can be blamed for a host of issues, but the case of the missing clamshells is not one of them. There is no fathomable reason that students cannot walk an extra ten feet to return containers except for a disregard for our responsibility towards the environment. As a student body, we must recognize our duty to better the world by taking small steps to lower our impact upon Chattanooga's great outdoors. We are stewards of the land. Land that we do not own but are borrowing from the future. It is our responsibility to make small steps to protect our environment, and these small steps often look like taking the literal steps to return a clamshell after lunch.