Waste Not, Want Not: Assessing Residence Hall Recycling @RooseveltU

By Kyria Fortina for ACP/SUST 250

One of the many campus initiatives and activities being tackled by the students in ACP/SUST 250 The Sustainability University this spring semester is waste reduction through improved recycling and composting. Our Recycling and Compost Team includes undergrads Rita Avdi, Kristina Grewe, Melissa Ruby, Carli Steinhauser, and Emma Vuillemot, each of whom contributes in different ways through their diverse ideas, academic backgrounds, and ambitions.

Sorting waste by category prior to weighing (photo: M. Bryson)

After the entire ACP/SUST 250 class ventured to Bubbly Creek on April 12th to clean up litter from the shoreline, this group headed back to RU’s campus to conduct a Waste Audit of one floor in Roosevelt’s WB residence hall. This empirical study was undertaken in part to address the group’s main goal to  provide further information on Roosevelt’s recycling and composting efforts” as well as engage students on better recycling and waste reduction practices.

The waste audit process involves systematically going through, separating, and weighing all the trash and recycling — literally piece by piece! — collected from a given space at the university over a certain time-frame (in this case, Monday 4/10 and Tuesday 4/11 in the WB dorm). The results of this audit will be revealed at tomorrow’s SUST Symposium, which starts at 2pm in RU’s Gage Gallery. All are encouraged to attend this “Big Reveal”! (Check out this post for results from a prior audit back in Fall 2014.)

Finished at last! It’s hard to overestimate how much fun rooting through garbage is. (Photo: M. Bryson)

Prior to conducting their audit, an initial assessment by the group showed that students and faculty need more information about the recycling opportunities available to them in the different University buildings. Besides assessing what we do here at Roosevelt, the group also looked at other universities and studied their approach to recycling. One useful example was UIC as a starting point for how they could build upon and improve Roosevelt’s recycling practices, as UIC effectively labels recycling containers to maximize waste diversion.

Consequently, part of the Team’s effort went into improving the message and design of informational posters to help student and faculty understand better the how-tos of recycling and composting. Look for their new signage around campus this spring!

New signage for waste stations developed by the 250 Recycling/Composting team this spring (Photo: E. Vuillemot)

Text by Kyria Fortina; edited by Yasmeen Lipprand and Mike Bryson.

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