In the spring of 2012 a waste audit at ACLC showed that 80% of the material in the trash could be composted or recycled. Motivated by these findings, learners began planning ways to start the 2012-2013 school year with improved waste diversion.
Facilitator Patricia Williamson explains, "they decided their first step this year would be to monitor the recycling stations and trash cans to see if people were using them correctly. So, they found discrete places they could sit and watch how people actually disposed of their waste. They discovered that many people did not pay attention to where they threw their waste."
Next, the learners announced their findings at the weekly campus-wide meeting. They reported that many trash cans on campus are not co-located with recycling bins, and those that are often do not have signs showing where to place different items. Even when signs were in place, their peers were not taking care to recycle materials such as paper. They also identified specific problems like the lack of bins next to the sink where diverse types of waste are present and the need for a focused effort in the seminar room where a large volume of the campus' waste is generated..
At the meeting they encouraged everybody to properly use the trash, compost, and recycling bins on campus, and pledged to organize a poster blitz to make sure that waste reduction messages are clearly posted across the campus.
"They plan to do follow-up studies and monitoring of the system to see if there are improvements," said Williamson. "They've designed a 'Red,' 'Yellow,' 'Green,' system to visually show the community how they did the previous day. They hope that regular monitoring and feedback to the community will lead to proper bin usage and waste reduction throughout the year."