Every week, the Econauts pick a different college to do a “waste audit” for. They take a sample of 4-12 bags of trash from the res-hall and apartment dumpsters, and sort out the contents between trash and recycling. Afterwards, they talk to students walking by about what they found in the trash. The most commonly found items that should have gone into recycling are: plastic dining hall to-go plates, plastic water bottles, cardboard boxes, and paper homework (of course).
This year, the Econauts started working with RA’s to further reach out to college residents. RA’s in the Village, Marshall, and Sixth all defined goals to increase their colleges’ waste diversion from landfills.
The Village set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash marked for landfills by 12% in Winter Quarter. To do so, they put on a diversion competition between the Village East and West, and threw a final food party for the winning side. They also got new signage out to residents, and applied for a green grant to get bigger recycling bins for the apartments. Meanwhile, Marshall College res-life set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash from 50% to 37% for Winter Quarter, and then to 27% by the end of Spring Quarter. They aspire to put together a competition between res-halls for decreasing water and trash waste, promote more programs focused on proper waste sorting, and share a video showing the life of a recyclable (made by the Econauts). Over on the other side of campus, Sixth College res-life set the goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash from 33% to 25% by the end of the school year. They plan to increase programming geared towards correct trash disposal, and put up extra signage to increase student awareness on what’s recyclable.
Between Fall and Winter Quarter, every college (including Muir) was able to noticeably decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash EXCEPT Revelle and ERC. During Fall Quarter, 50% of their trash turned out to be RECYCLABLE; this decreased slightly to 47% in Winter Quarter, and we hope to help them continue to bring that percentage down over time. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook if you have any questions on how you can improve your own recycling habits!♣
Credit: Samantha Forrest, Rep. for Econauts