By: Celine Thormann
EcoReps is a large organization on campus that focuses on environmental and sustainability issues. I recently sat down with Allison South, a member of the leadership team of EcoReps, to talk about the water bottle project, trash audits and Green Clean Day.
The water bottle project has to do with the green water bottles that you may have received at some point this year that were handed out by EcoReps. The water bottles are to spread awareness of EcoReps and other environmental organizations on campus, as well as providing reusable water bottles to incoming freshmen so that they do not create more waste by using disposable bottles that they may or may not recycle. The goal for this 2019-2020 school year is to produce 1700 bottles!
Trash audits are another project of the EcoReps and one that at first sounds fairly messy. Every two weeks, a group of EcoReps and volunteers go to a quad (they do enough audits to get to every quad on campus) and weigh about 50 pounds of trash from each dorm. They will then sort through the trash and remove everything that is recyclable from the trash. They then weigh the recyclable items and divide by the total weight to determine the percentage of trash that could have been recycled. They audit every dorm each semester and are therefore able to see change over time and identify certain dorms as areas that may need more education about recycling. The EcoReps can then work with their representative on the Community Leadership Team of each dorm to send out informational emails or host educational events in the dorm in an effort to decrease the amount of recyclable material in the trash. The most common numbers are that each dorm has about 30 percent recyclables in their trash. The best numbers of the most recent trash audit were only 14 percent of the trash was recyclable, and the worst numbers were that almost 57 percent of the trash should have been recycled. These numbers are more or less equivalent to last semester, with certain dorms who have engaged EcoReps reliably doing better on trash audits. The EcoRep on the Community Leadership Team plays a vital role in being a liaison between the EcoReps and the dorm, so if your dorm does not have a dedicated EcoRep, please consider becoming one!
Finally, the EcoReps, partnered with National Residence Hall Honorary, are holding an event called Green Clean Day. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Friday after a certain green-themed celebration, the EcoReps will be in Armstrong. Volunteers can go to the table, receive gloves and are assigned to a group in a certain area of campus. The teams of volunteers will clean up their area of campus, sorting trash into the trash, recycling, and red solo cups. The reason that the red solo cups are separated is that Oxford does not recycle those. However, the EcoReps have a pilot program with Ethridge that can recycle those cups, which are made of number 6 plastics.
Green Clean Day is fast approaching and is a fabulous opportunity to make a difference on campus and possibly get a service opportunity. So, if you are available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Fri., Mar. 21st, head down to Armstrong– sign up here and help to keep our campus beautiful!