Cheering For Compost!

By Katie Zeller

Last week, the Zero Waste Pauley Team conducted a behavioral audit at the UCLA vs Colorado men’s basketball game. We got to run around Pauley Pavilion with clipboards, carefully observing what items were being thrown away, whether they were compostable, recyclable or landfill items, and whether or not these items were being thrown away in the correct bins. Now that the fun part is over, we are moving to the next step of data analysis!

After taking a look at our photos, we realized the majority of the trash was either compostable or recyclable. Some popular items to note are pizza boxes, napkins, straw wrappers, fountain drink cups, and coffee cups. For the most part, attendees placed bottles and cans into the recycling bins but we did find a few bottles here and there in the wrong receptacles.

An example of the trash we found around the facility - pizza boxes, cups and numerous paper products.

An example of the trash we found around the facility - pizza boxes, cups and numerous paper products.

Currently, only trash and recycle bins exist in Pauley Pavilion. Our patrons are unaware that there is a difference between landfill and compost items, so we want to start our campaign to cheer for compost! First and foremost the goal of our team is to place compost bins in the facility, significantly limiting the amount of waste that goes to landfill. Many of our paper products are recyclable, however food contamination necessitates us to sort them with compost. For example, pizza boxes, which were the largest items found in the bins, should be placed in compost bins, as well as food-contaminated trays. Not only do we absolutely need compost bins at Pauley, but larger recycling bins would be beneficial as well. Lids of all drink containers should be separated from cups and placed into the recycle bins. From what we observed only bottles were being placed into recycle bins. Entire units of waste were being thrown away in trash bins, as our patrons were unaware that separating items is essential for correct trash sorting.

Our team plans on working with UCLA Recreation to find trash bins that can be used for compost, preferably color coded green. We want to start designing labels that are very clear and site-specific, using images of items that are sold within Pauley Pavilion and clearly showing that items need to be separated. We recognize that we have our work cut out for us, but we are one step closer to being zero-waste!