By Kelsey Davis
As the quarter draws to a close, the Recycling Action Research Team is preparing for our final presentation and reflecting on the impacts of our project. What were our major accomplishments and what have we learned?
Our project had several tangible outcomes for the UCLA campus. We developed a data collection method that can be used by our stakeholder and the Facilities Department for monitoring trash and recycling bins on campus. We designed and posted signage in Macgowan Courtyard that will remain until the end of the school year. Our research shows that our signage reduced the amount of recyclable material in trash bins by nearly 20%. Some of our other findings, such as which recyclable materials are most commonly mis-sorted into trash bins, can be used to inform future Action Research Team projects. We also facilitated two educational tabling events, a waste sorting game at the Earth Day Fair and a clothing swap at Ecochella.
While our team worked to improve campus sustainability, the biggest impact of our project may be on ourselves. After a waste audit, countless meetings with our stakeholder, and hours of independent research, we have become recycling experts. Our knowledge of recycling has made us more aware of our own waste habits and we’ve become more committed to recycling. Additionally, we developed a strong desire to share our knowledge of recycling with others. Some of our most rewarding experiences over the past two quarters have been our tabling events, where we had the opportunity to educate the campus community. We also gained valuable skills from our project, including the ability to collaborate on a team, design a research project, and work with a stakeholder.
Action Research Teams like our own have made a tangible contribution to UCLA sustainability efforts since the program’s inception in 1998. But even more far-reaching, the program builds a passion for sustainability in the students who participate, instilling a desire to make a the world a more sustainable place and lending the confidence to take action.