Who said waste sorting couldn't be fun?

By Ellie Joo

After submitting the recommendation report to our stakeholder, Jesse Escobar, on the waste data collected from Winter Quarter, the Recycling Team is continuing to move forward with our Spring Quarter plans. We had our first event of spring at the campus Earth Day Fair this past Wednesday. Our group partnered with the Zero Waste Pauley Team to lead a waste sorting game, and it turned out to be a fun success!

Many students were eager to participate in the interactive game, finding it an opportune way to learn about what items goes where (between trash, recycling, and compost) and to see whether they’ve been disposing of their waste correctly all along. Both the team members and the players enjoyed the process, as both sides were able to address common misconceptions about proper waste sorting. As predicted, some of the most commonly observed mistakes were placing chip bags, candy wrappers, and straws in the recycling bin instead of the trash. We were also able to inform many people about the idea of composting paper products and leftover food. Overall, the game was rewarding and enjoyable.

We are now in the midst of our second phase of waste data collection, and are focusing on the five waste stations in Macgowan courtyard. Our survey -- named Macgowan 2.0 (as it is the second time we are studying this area this year) -- is similar to last quarter’s, only the area of study this time is much smaller. We are also including more specific sections, such as one in which we list the exact number of items that people have improperly sorted into each bin. From preliminary observation of the bin contents, it seems that unclear labeling of the recycling and trash bins in the courtyard may be causing some confusion about which bin is which. In the coming weeks, we will be implementing removable signage in this area to observe whether this is really the case: can clear signage divert more recyclable items from entering the landfill?

Team member Sara Vetter goes through the items that the players have classified into each bin for the waste sorting game at the Earth Day Fair!

Team member Sara Vetter goes through the items that the players have classified into each bin for the waste sorting game at the Earth Day Fair!