Recycling Education for an Earth-friendly Campus

By Rachel Chung

After a few weeks of planning and preparing, the Zero-Waste Pauley Pavilion ART team finally had a fun event to attend last week! Tuesday was Earth Day, so the environmental club, E3, hosted a large Earth Day Fair on the Intramural Fields on Wednesday. Our team was invited to table at the fair, and to prepare an activity related to our research topic that would be interesting and educational for the general student body. We decided to team up with the Recycling ART team, because our project goals both center around efficient waste disposal and diverting material from landfills, both around campus and in Pauley Pavilion specifically.

For our activity, we decided to host a recycling game, in which participants were invited to sort out a bag of various waste items into Clearstream recycling, compost, and landfill containers. We collected the waste items from various places around campus, and the resulting collection included Carl’s Jr. fry trays, Café 1919 pizza boxes, plastic utensils, corn-based utensils, plastic containers with fake “food” in it, chip bags, coffee cups, foil, and an assortment of other items (see bottom left photo). To make the game a little more interesting, we had participants see how much they could sort in one minute, and then “scored” them after by their accuracy. This was a great teaching opportunity, because we could explain the correct way to dispose of trash. Common mistakes included putting food-contaminated waste into the recycling bin, or composting plastic items. Overall, it was a successful activity and many students were surprised to find that certain items could or could not be recycled!

There was a minor complication in our activity – that is, we were planning on premiering our new signage, tested at Dance Marathon a few weeks ago, at the Earth Day Fair. We were going to attach the appropriate recycling, compost, and landfill signs to the Clearstream bins so that students would be able to sort the items according to the labels, but due to technical difficulties we weren’t able to use the signs. However, we hope to use them in future initiatives.

For example, over the past few weeks we have been working with UCLA Recreation to brainstorm the implementation of our signage at Pauley Pavilion. While the signs could be attached to existing bins (see our blog post about the basketball game behavioral audit for reference pictures), we believe that creating a streamlined, self-contained, centralized waste system would be most effective. We have been looking into different companies for “waste islands,” particularly Max-R Recycling Stations. While this endeavor may be pricier than simply printing labels of our signs, we think that consolidating and standardizing bins, signs, and placement will allow Pauley Pavilion event attendees to most efficiently and sustainably sort their waste. UCLA Recreation has agreed to contribute some funding towards this initiative, and we recently applied to the Green Initiative Fund in hopes of purchasing Max-R waste islands to help Pauley Pavilion reach our goal of zero waste.