Coming down the stairs of Ramsey Library, students faced the smell of piles of UNC Asheville’s trash sorted on a large blue tarp.
Despite the cold and wind, grounds workers and the recycling coordinator, Zig, searched for recyclable and compostable items discarded in trashcans. The demonstration was part of Recyclemania, an international competition to increase recycling and reduce waste. UNCA will compete with about 550 campuses in the U.S and Canada. This week set the baseline for the amount of waste on campus until the competition ends in March.
Senior Scott Arico dug into the trash as well, helping sort through the cigarette butts, rotting fruit, coffee cups and post its.
Zig even found most of a football-shaped cake in the trash, smiling and joking that it “took the cake,” compared to all the other discarded items.
Afterwards, Roger Penely helped weigh all the bags to determine the percentage of UNCA’s waste that could have been recycled.
Since 2008, UNCA decreased landfilled waste 34.6 percent as a result of their effort to institute environmentally friendly practices on campus. Other efforts include reusable to-go boxes in the dining hall, widespread blue recycling bins and special faucets encouraging refilling water bottles.
A live scoreboard on the Recylcemania website tracks the schools’ progress throughout the two-week competition.
Flip the Switch, a contest to conserve energy on campus, also began this week. The competition promotes reducing energy and water use on campuses across the U.S. Electricity statistics for the campus are on the online Flip the Switch dashboard.
Photos by Megan Dombroski. Megan Dombroski is a senior journalism student at UNCA.