Entitlement is trashy: when littering becomes sinister

The new wing of the Winnetka campus is the epitome of minimalism, modern architecture, and airy, tranquil, natural lighting. We have floor to ceiling windows, an art gallery, and modern floating lights outside our library. It is truly a beautiful place to learn.

However, by the end of each day, almost without fail, our new glittering stairwells, geometric sitting areas, and airport-esque cafeteria are littered with garbage.

The opulence of the new wing makes the trash almost comical, the guacamole smeared on the carpeting and disposable coffee cups not quite fitting in with the clean, futuristic vibe of the building.

One would think that teenagers would be old enough, or at least self- aware enough to clean up after themselves after they have made a mess. This evidently is not always the case for the average New Trier student.

The trash strewn about our halls at the end of each day is nasty, and it reeks strongly of one thing: entitlement.

Leaving your garbage out to rot not only demonstrates a lack of respect for the space that you are sharing with others, but more importantly an extreme disregard for the people that work here and will be forced to pick up after you.

Physical Plant Services works hard every single day to ensure that our school is clean, functional, and comfortable for all of us to learn in. This includes the maintenance of bathrooms, keeping classrooms clean, clearing the hallways and more

However, it is not the job of PPS workers to be the maids for students who are too lazy to pick up their trash. It is really easy to not be gross and simply throw your trash away, and you make everyone else’s day easier by doing so.

Students who leave their garbage behind likely are not intentionally trying to make anyone else’s life more difficult. Sometimes kids may forget to pick up their trash and not mean to leave a mess for someone else to manage, but it ultimately wastes the time of the custodial staff when it is extraordinarily easy to find a trash can.

NT has a remarkable number of garbage cans. They’re on each floor, clearly labeled, often near areas with heavy foot-traffic. Many of them have environmental posters above them, even informing students of the differences between recycling and regular trash. The garbage cans are clearly labeled, rarely overflowing, and disturbingly underused.

As a student body, we produce an astonishing amount of garbage. It is critical to remember that this school is a communal space. This means that students, we need to be more aware of our actions and not behave the way that we would in our own homes.

Unlike at home, your mom isn’t going to clean up after you and your family dog isn’t going to be following you around to eat up your crumbs as you drop them.

Littering may seem insignificant, but it can demonstrate
a troubling disregard for the effect you can have or the work you inadvertently create for other people. Having the expectation that others will manage your messes is problematic, and will not be the case at any point in our futures.

Luckily, littering has an easy fix. If each student decides to be accountable for their own trash and pick up any other garbage we see, the school environment will be improved and it will be easier for the custodial staff to do their job.