Today me and four others from the environmental committee did a waste audit for Martha’s café in the Human Ecology building. Waste audits are when the waste from a certain store or building is analyzed. This is a powerful tool because it can help identify the type of waste this place is generating and how much of it. It can also help with getting a general idea of whether people are sorting garbage between compost, landfill and recycle correctly.
Martha’s café was chosen for the waste audit because it is known to be one of the much more sustainable café’s on campus. It is the first one to completely band the sale of plastic water bottles.
We brought all of their garbage outback to the sub-basement so we could start sorting everything. But we realized that this was not all of the garbage that they had today as some had already been thrown out. Naturally, as eager environmental loving students we decided to dumpster dive. Looking into each bag, we tried to find some sort of indication that it was today’s garbage as the dumpster contained Monday’s trash as well.
We would pour the content of each bag onto the floor, then depending on what the bag was labeled as, sort out all of the garbage that is not meant to be there. For example, if I had a landfill bag, there shouldn’t be any compostable or recyclable material in the bag. I had a landfill bag and pouring the content out shows that mistakes in sorting were made. There were a lot of receipt and paper napkins, which could all be recycled. But generally the majority of the content were landfill waste. Then each non belonging item was individually counted and tallied. This would provide a better idea of what people think is landfill and what they don’t see as landfill. This could be helpful for future projects in terms of new signage and educating the student population on which items are actually recyclable, compostable or actually landfill.