American consumerism has long supported this vicious cycle of wastefulness with willful ignorance. Our garbage disappears into the alleys between apartment buildings, into dumps rarely visited by the average citizen, and eventually into landfills never to be seen or thought of again.
The UW has been awarded a gold medal for waste management by the National Association of Colleges and Universities [Food Services]. The recognition acknowledges the work of the UW Department of Housing & Food Services in reducing waste sent to landfills and increasing campus composting and recycling.
“Our program has come a long way since its early beginnings,” said Micheal Meyering, manager of Housing & Food Services.
Only weeks after the new solar-powered recycling, composting, and waste kiosks were stationed in Red Square, there has been a 50 percent drop in the amount of garbage collected each week.
Got some extra equipment in your office that you'd like to part with in a way that's sustainable and helps colleagues? The new campuswide online classified ad service uSwap is good for anything from paper clips on up.
On uSwap you can tell other departments and units about your extra equipment or request items from others. You can manage your posts as you go along and use an RSS feed to stay up to date. The program was set up by the Capital Projects Office, and most of the transactions are free. It's open to anyone with a UW NetID.
When you have a master's degree in creative writing but end up working at the University of Washington's Surplus Store, you need an outlet for those creative juices.
Luckily for Eric Wahl, one of his jobs there is describing for the store's website all those no-longer-needed desks, chairs, microscopes and even baby grand pianos.
So a bunch of old TVs being sold at $15 to $25 each become not pedestrian electronics, but:
Solar-powered. Wireless. Data-driven. You might not think of these terms when describing waste collection, but this traditionally low-tech field is about to become less dirty and more digital thanks to a new program at UW.
As part of a just-launched pilot, a number of the existing outdoor garbage and recycling cans on Red Square have been replaced with high-tech, automated kiosks that collect more types of materials. The kiosks will be officially launched during a small ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 20, during Earth Day festivities.
On April 11, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Red Square, volunteers will suit up and sort through one day’s worth of trash from around the University of Washington campus. The annual ‘UW Trash-In’ is a fun and insightful way to explore how much compostable and recyclable material is still being thrown away on campus, and this annual event continues to grow in interest and impact.
“We’re changing the way we think about waste at UW,” said UW Recycling & Solid Waste Manager Emily Newcomer.
After a brief introduction to the sorting process, volunteers are given a cover-up suit, gloves and goggles, and are sent to a sorting station. Bags of trash are emptied onto tables and volunteers sort materials by type into nearby bins for compost, cans/bottles, mixed recycling and garbage. The party-like atmosphere includes popular music, sorting games and challenges.
“There’s a lot of dancing and laughing while we sort,” said Aubrey Batchelor with the UW Sustainability Office. “You learn so much about what can be composted or recycled, and it’s surprisingly fun to see what others have thrown away.”