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Residence Life & Dining Services Begins Semester with Reuse/Recycle Efforts

September 13, 2010
Students recycling
Residence Life and Dining Services Graduate Assistants, Denis Birgenheir and Ashley Perkins collected cardboard to recycle during move-in weekend. (Residence Life and Dining Services)

This fall's "move-in weekend" at UW was more sustainable than in previous years. That's because Residence Life & Dining Services staff members worked with students, several UW departments and local residents on a major cardboard recycling effort at the residence halls and a home product giveaway at the UW Apartments.

"With nearly 2,000 students living in the residence halls and roughly 300 in on-campus apartments, there is a lot of potential for waste on move-in weekend," says Associate Director for Residence Life Tony Earls. "These programs are driven by the students' motivation to make a difference and make move-in weekend more sustainable."

Through the efforts of the Residence Halls Association (RHA) and UW Recycling, nearly 8,800 pounds of cardboard were collected as students moved into the residence halls, exceeding last year's total by more than a ton.

RHA and Residence Life personnel broke down cardboard boxes at collection areas outside the halls. Parents and students were very supportive, and many flattened their boxes before bringing them to collection areas. UW Recycling picked up cardboard from the collection points at regular intervals.

"By collecting recycling in a visible way from day one, we set the tone for a sustainable mindset," says RHA Executive Branden Hays. "And, with the data collected by UW Recycling, we can raise awareness about sustainability throughout the year."

There is also evidence that the amount of trash hauled away during move-in decreased significantly. Only one large rollaway trash bin had to be emptied an extra time. Last year bins had to be emptied six times.

"While it's hard to get exact data on the amount of trash collected, we made fewer trips to the dump this year," says Tod Scott of UW Recycling. "I'm confident that we definitely picked up less trash this year than we have in the past, and regardless of the anecdotal data, we do know that we diverted even more cardboard from going to the landfill than in previous years."

At the University Apartments, the Home Products Give Away encouraged the reuse of unwanted items while also meeting international students' need to acquire basic home items once they arrive.

With the help of volunteers from the International Student Services (ISS) Office, International Programs, College of Arts and Sciences and Residence Life, items were collected for two weeks before the event and were distributed at the Aug. 21 giveaway. Items included clothing, electronics, kitchen utensils, cooking supplies, home decor and more.

"Sid Walter and Christie Beth Stebbins started this program a number of years ago," says Residence Life Assistant Director Michelle Black. "The response this year was wonderful, and we want to thank the UW Campus and Laramie Community for their donations."

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