I was standing next to the College Ten dumpster and couldn't figure if I should throw my domino's pizza box in the recycling or landfill dumpster. I threw it into the recycling bin because isn't that what you do with cardboard? Little did I know that you are supposed to recycle clean pizza boxes and throw away the part that has food and grease on it. I went back into my room feeling guilty about calling myself a “sustainable” person because I wasn't sure if it had made the right choice or not near the dumpsters.
As I stared at the wall in the room, I thought it would really nice to have a recycling sign on my wall to guide me through my waste disposal so I don't get confused when I'm taking out the trash from my dorm. I brought up this idea at an Education and Outreach team meeting at the Sustainability Office and we agreed that this was a good educational material for students. We planned to start this pilot project at College Nine to see how efficient dorm signage is and whether or not it aids students when throwing away their trash.
After getting approval from the CHES (Colleges, Housing and Educational Services) sustainability working group, gaining interest and support from the College Nine Senate and Resident Assistants, Rebecca Sale (Education and Outreach Team associate) and I created surveys to gain an understanding of current student behavior when it came to properly disposing waste. After the signs were created, they were placed in every College Nine Residence Hall room. We conducted waste assessments with the Zero Waste Team to measure the percent refuse before and after signage through rough visual estimates.
The waste assessment results clearly demonstrated that the signs were effective because the percent refuse increased from 53% to 65% meaning the waste contamination had decreased. In the future, we hope to extend this project to all colleges with the hope of reaching our 2020 goal of zero waste.
This project means a lot to me because all students who live in the college dorms and apartments will be able to contribute to our campus goal. Regardless of whether or not we have a specific goal, as humans, we will all work together for the welfare of Mother Earth and for each other.