Monday, December 14, 2009

Waste Audit

Twice a year your trusty Green Living Reps conduct waste audits, and the results of the Fall 2009 audit are in. The good news is that recycling is generally improving! 

The not-so-good news is that roughly a quarter of things you threw in the trash could have been recycled.  Keep working on this! Our goal is to reduce this amount of recyclable materials in the garbage even further. This is what we learned from the audit:
·    26% trash by weight was items that could have been recycled or reused, about the same as Spring 2009 (24%).  
·   This is down since the first Green Living audit in Fall 2005, when 45% of the trash could have been recycled or reused.

Here’s how the audit worked: your custodians saved trash bags and labeled them with each dorm's name and date.  The Reps met up with your trash at a recycling warehouse in Allston, where we took everything out of bags and sorted it into recycling, food waste/compostables, reusable items that could have been donated, and residuals (actual trash).  Next, we weighed each of these components and put them in separate bins for processing.  It was an enlightening, if smelly, experience!

Why is recycling important?
·   Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial airline fleet every three months.
·   Making cans from recycled aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to produce cans from virgin material.
·   Every year enough paper is thrown away to make a 12’ wall from New York to California. 
·   Glass can be reused an infinite number of times; over 41 billion glass containers are made each year.

For more fun facts about recycling, check this link: 

For a reminder of what can be recycled and how to do it, go to:

We'll be doing another audit in the spring, and we'll let you know what we find out!  In the meantime, let us know if you have any suggestions for improving recycling signage/infrastructure anywhere on campus.

I'll leave you with some examples of items found in the trash:

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