Friday, September 26, 2014

Garbology 101

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the NWC Anthropology Department's fourth annual garbology project. Many thanks to Associate Professor Greg Smith for providing the data below: 

Participating students gained practical experience in using the scientific method and a heightened awareness of the life-cycle of garbage. As you can see, it was quite a visceral experience. A fortuitous by-product is that the project functions as a major campus publicity campaign for anthropology and recycling.

The project involves conducting yearly waste stream audits on campus and delineating how much recyclable material is being thrown away with the regular garbage (see that cardboard coffee cup sleeve among the pizza? Yes, that really is pizza).

The first three garbology studies documented a slight increase in campus recycling over time and the results of the fourth are still pending. Averaging the data from the first three sessions results in some sobering statistics: between 25-35% of all campus garbage by weight could have been recycled.

Assuming that the garbage they have looked at is representative of an average day on campus, we throw some 828 recyclable plastic containers into the trash every day. Projected over an entire school year, NWC throws over 170,000 plastic containers into the trash!

Food for thought...(ok, maybe that is not the best idiom given the visuals above, but you get what I am saying).

Have a good weekend.

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