By Richard Zagrzecki
When the Sustainability Fest was held on campus last month, organizers wanted to minimize the amount of waste the event generated.
That meant encouraging everyone who came out to Lynn Eusan Park on Dec. 3 to use the recycling bins and compost boxes that were set up.
“We wanted people to think about what they are throwing away and where it ends up,” Office of Sustainability Program Manager Sarah Kelly said. “Many things that are mindlessly tossed in the garbage can be diverted from the waste stream. There’s a consequence for throwing away recyclables and compostables.”
That’s bad for the environment because of the greenhouse gases that are emitted from landfills. It’s also bad for the University, which has to pay to send the waste generated on campus to a landfill. That can add up to a lot of money over time.
After the event was over, six 96-gallon recycling bins were filled with recyclable materials, much of it being cardboard boxes. The Office of Sustainability also collected two boxes of materials that were composted in the campus community garden. Another box containing chip wrappers collected at the event will be used for craft projects during RecycleMania, which takes place in the spring semester.
Two 60-gallon garbage cans were set out during the event for materials that could not be recycled or used for composting. Those cans were both only about a third of the way filled.
Kelly said she and her staff will study this year’s event and figure out ways to improve upon it so even less waste is generated next year.
“There was unexpected packaging material in the promotional item boxes that we threw away because it wasn't recyclable. So in the future, we are hoping to work more closely with our vendors to reduce or eliminate unnecessary packaging,” she said.
The event, Kelly said, should have had a positive impact on everyone who attended.
“We hope everyone who participated in Sustainability Fest saw how easy it is to reduce waste and will start incorporating a different approach in their own life,” she said.