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Feb 18, 2014

Festival's New Trash Cans Throw a Curve Ball

Photograph of bins with labels for recycling, compost, and landfill trash.
The dining area at Festival has a variety of bins for recycleables, compost materials and landfill waste.  Picture by Klaire Dixius for JMU Technology and Design.

By Lauren Privette

Throwing trash away in Festival is not the straightforward task it used to be. Upon returning from winter break, students found four new trash cans with big, distinctly labeled signs explaining which recyclables go in which can. JMU’s Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability in partnership with Dining Services created the signs for the trash cans with the hope of minimizing waste and improving our rank in the annual Recycling Mania Tournament.

Over an 8-week period each year, 461 colleges and Universities across of the U.S. and Canada compete in various categories for the most material recycled and the least trash collected. This is JMU’s 8th consecutive year participating in the yearly competition.

With the start of the Recycling Mania Tournament in early February, JMU upped the ante with these new, more specific bins, in an effort to reduce the amount of waste generated on campus. Three of the bins are for recyclables, and one is for un-recyclable waste that will go to a landfill. “I think it’s good,” said senior Biotechnology major Brittany McCarthy, “it’s really helpful to have the pictures on there. It makes it easy to figure out where everything goes.”

In the infancy of the new recycling bins, students struggled to separate their trash and different materials in their respective bins. J.R. Franks, a Junior Geographic Science major, had trouble determining where to put the wax paper his sandwich was wrapped in. “It isn’t specifically indicated what those are, so, for a few items, I’m not really sure where they go,” said Franks.

To help with the sorting, a staff member monitored and directed trash traffic for the first few weeks. “She was helpful. She just helped students do what the sign said,” reflected McCarthy.

However, problems still arise with the new bins. “I try to do everything according to what it says,” said Franks, “but I look in there and see that people have put stuff in the obviously wrong one, and I think ‘what’s the point of this if no one’s going to do it right?’”

The tournament continues until the 29th of March, leaving plenty of time for improvements in recycling habits.

When asked if she was happy with the new recycling system, McCarthy responded, “It’s an easy way to help the environment that doesn’t cost much effort from the person doing it, so why not?”

So next time you’re in Festival, remember to recycle!

Curious about the tournament? JMU is currently in 137th out of 461 schools! Here’s a link to the Recycle Mania website and rankings: http://www.recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard/current-results/competition-division








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