With help from the Office of Waste Management, each year student and staff volunteers (many from the Eco-Rep program!) don protective gear and sort through trash taken from campus residential areas to raise awareness about recycling and the recyclable waste that ends up in the campus’s waste stream.
By separating recyclable items from the trash, students can determine what percentage of the trash could have been diverted from the landfill and demonstrate how the new implementation of Single Stream Recycling across campus can make recycling an everyday activity.
What our Sustainability Coordinator from Residential Life has determined: UMass trash from one academic year would fill nearly half of a southwest tower!
Each year, UMass sends roughly 3,000 tons of waste to the landfill. Landfills are responsible for one third of all U.S. methane emissions... That’s the same as burning 824 railcars of coal!! We want to ensure, as a community, that UMass is doing its best to keep unnecessary wastes out of the landfill. You can do your part by reusing/repurposing/donating items, recycling, and composting appropriate materials.
Some strategies to reduce your everyday waste include:
- Dining In! While take-out containers on campus are compostable, compost bins are only available in and around dining facilities/retail outlets. Once you leave that area these containers become trash.
- Investing in Reusables! Use the hydration stations to refill your reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Also consider keeping reusable cutlery and a cloth napkin in your backpack for when you are on the go.
- Repairing & Repurposing! Repair damaged items rather than replacing and find creative new uses for no-longer used/needed items (an old t-shirt can become a reusable tote bag, etc.). Seek inspiration from the internet!
In the news & through the years:
2010 - https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/umass-amherst-%E2%80%98trash-sort%E2%80%99-shines-spotlight-recycling
2012 - https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/umass-amherst-student-trash-sort-highlights-recycling
2015 - https://dailycollegian.com/2015/03/how-to-be-eco-friendly-as-a-umass-student-in-the-residence-halls/
2017 - https://www.wwlp.com/news/umass-students-learn-about-sustainability-by-sorting-through-trash/
2017 - https://www.facebook.com/UMassAmherst/photos/eco-rep-students-sort-trash-at-the-campus-waste-management-facility/10155014961038671/
2019 - https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/volunteers-sift-through-trash-raise
2019 - https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/earth-day-waste-sort-umass-amherst