Residence Hall Waste Audit Summary

– This post from Sustainability Assistant Jake M. – 

In celebration of Earth Week and to “Get Out of the Landfill,” students sifted through sample bags of trash from each of the residence halls. Each residence had been given the challenge to trash as little recyclable waste as possible over the course of the week. The trash was then sorted between actual trash and materials that could have been recycled. Our recycling crew took the time earlier in the semester to establish a baseline of what kind of waste each residence was producing in terms of actual trash and recyclables put into the trash.

Earth Day Audit fig 1

(Figure 1) Results of Earth Day Trash Audit

In raw percentage of potentially recycled material (figure 1) our best performers were Maplewood (15%) and East View (20%) while the worst performer was Woodhall (72.7%). When we looked at the percentage change from the baseline averages of each residence’s trash production (figure 2) our top performer was East View with a 54% reduction in the amount of recycled materials trashed while our TerraHaus/Cottages sample showed a 29% increase in lost recycling.

(Figure 2) Recycle Improvement from Baseline

(Figure 2) Recycle Improvement from Baseline

While there are many useful bits of information we can pull from this, perhaps the two most important are that first, as evidenced by East View, there is always room for improvement and it’s very easily done. Second, as evidenced by our lowest performers we still have plenty of opportunity to pick some low hanging fruit in our efforts to drive our overall waste production down. This will of course be a never ending team effort by everyone on campus; on campus and off campus, Students, Staff and Faculty alike. The good news is that we already doing well and we can continue to stay on the up and up with relative ease if we stay mindful of the challenges involved. But come on, who doesn’t like the sounds of perpetually winning?

-Jake McGinley 5/3/13

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