Wasting Away

Recyclable Items

According to Rumpke’s website:

  1. glass bottles and jars
  2. metal cans including aluminum cans, steel cans and aerosol cans without the lids
  3. paper including newspapers, magazines and empty pizza boxes free of food and grease, paperboard (like cereal boxes), telephone books and catalogs
  4. plastic bottles like milk jugs, water bottles, laundry detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, soda bottles and contact solution bottles
  5. cartons for food and beverages

Miami University’s Green Team has been working diligently to reach President David Hodge’s Sustainability Goals.

This year, the university signed a new contract with Rumpke granting the school the ability to recycle a wider variety of items-items numbered one through seven, sophomore microbiology major, Carolyn Turner, said. These numbers stand for the different compositions of plastics that can be recycled.

Turner is the co-chair of the Green Team, an organization to promote environmental sustainability by engaging students. They manage Miami’s battery recycling programs and host events such as ‘zero-waste’ games, to encourage Miami sports fans to consume responsibly.

At last semester’s zero-waste football game, Miami finished fourth in the nation for waste reduction, a very high number, Turner said.

This February, the Green Team held a zero-waste hockey game featuring several compostable items to test whether or not students were making a conscious effort to throw their items in the correct bins. Turner said not much was drawn from that game.

Food waste is an environmental problem that can be mitigated by composting. According to Turner, composting takes advantage of a naturally occurring decay process that certain items undergo.

Miami’s compostable waste is taken to a compost facility where, Turner said, it is piled with the correct combination of a nitrogen source and a carbon source. The pile is turned every so often and the temperature gets high and anaerobic, which is necessary to break down the materials. After a while, the material is composted and a nutrient rich, desirable soil is left.

The composting program has not been implemented campus wide, but a pilot program has started with the faculty members.

David Pryherch, an associate professor of geography and the former Sustainability Coordinator, said that although Miami is making strides toward becoming more environmentally sustainable, they still have a long way to go to meet their goals.

“Miami has a set of Sustainability Commitments, which include a goal of diverting a majority of our waste stream from the landfill by 2017, through improved recycling and the introduction of composting,” Prytherch said.

The problem is that sustainability does not seem to be a major priority in the lives of both the majority of students and faculty on campus.

 

“Changing campus culture, in terms of campus life, operations, and administration is a real challenge,” he said.

With regards to what students can do in order to become more involved in creating a greener, more sustainable campus, Prytherch cites education as a powerful tool. Students, he said, need to learn about the issues that will affect their future.

“Everyone should care about sustainability, since it will directly impact the quality or degradation of our future,” he said.

The foundation for a brighter, greener future has already been laid at Miami. The next step, both Turner and Prytherch agree, is to get students, faculty and the wider community passionate about protecting the earth.

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