Waste. It’s everywhere and a part of everyone’s life. While it can be easier during our college years, not everything goes directly into the garbage. Some things can be recycled, while others can be composted. This may not seem like new or useful information, yet a lot of students and faculty on campus are unaware of what goes where. That’s where the Zero Waste Ambassadors (ZWA) come in.
“This program was developed to address a need. It’s not always easy to know what bin to put your waste into to properly sort it,” Sustainability Director Lacey Raak said. “The ZWA is there to help bridge the gap between people and proper waste sorting.”
The ZWA is a newer group on campus that allows students who are motivated and passionate about sustainable living, go out and help their peers on what goes where in terms of waste.
For example, many people believe the containers from the Otter Express (OE) go into the recycle or into the landfill because of the food debris left behind. However, the OE has all plant-based materials that they use for food. What this means is that all of those bowl containers and to-go boxes that you take out of the OE should be going in the compost bin instead of the landfill.
“It can be really difficult to navigate the world of waste and properly sorting disposable items. The ZWA provides education and support to help our campus understand the waste streams,” said Carolyn Hinman, Environmental Outreach Coordinator for GreenWaste Recovery.
This is what the ZWA was created to do – help those around campus sort their waste properly. They are also the ones you’ll see going through the three-bin stations around campus, sorting through and moving things from one bin to the other. A common mistake is thinking napkins are recyclable after they’ve been used. They are actually too contaminated by food to be recycled, which means they go in the landfill bin.
“I believe there is a mixture of both gratitude and annoyance coming from different people when I tell people where their waste goes,” said freshman Skylar Aldridge. “I believe that those who are glad about being taught are those who want to change and make a difference in the world and those who are annoyed are the ones who could care less and don’t see the point in making a difference.”
Be on the lookout for anyone wearing a green vest around the three-bin stations and they’ll be able to help you sort your waste! Let’s help keep our landfills to a minimum.