The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Office of Sustainability, with the help of Grainger Industrial Supply and Rubbermaid Commercial Products, sifted through the university’s garbage at a waste audit on Monday, Nov. 18 on Boucher Drive.
The Office of Sustainability gathered bags of trash and recycling from bins around campus onto Boucher Drive, where volunteers then proceeded to weigh them, examine their contents to see that everything was placed in the right bin, and weighing them again to see any differences.
“The goal was to basically educate and make everyone aware of the importance of recycling and it’s also a great way to get the students involved as well,” Kevin Monteleon, 34, of Rubbermaid, said.
“Overall it was a great experience, everyone’s been awesome here and that was a fairly, very, very clean audit compared to what I’ve seen in the past,” Monteleon continued. “It wasn’t very, very messy and I didn’t find a lot of bizarre, nasty, disgusting stuff that you’d find on a university.”
Monteleon added that, as far as having students put the proper materials in the proper bins goes, UL Lafayette is already doing a pretty good job compared to other universities they’ve been to.
Sustainability Coordinator at UL Lafayette Monica Rowand echoed Monteleon’s sentiment, saying they didn’t find too much recycling misplaced in landfill. Despite this fact, Rowand said they still wanted to improve students’ understanding on how to properly recycle.
“We will probably work with the sustainability club, the Ragin’ Cajuns Sustainability Leaders, to get that information not just to the club members but then to friends of the club members to disseminate out, so we need to educate every student, not just the ones that think about recycling right?” Rowand said.
Rowand named a few important things students can do to help reduce on-campus waste. She encourages students to empty out and rinse recyclable containers, using durable and reusable bottles, and eating in restaurants as opposed to eating out.
“It makes you realize how uneducated most of us are because we would think we’re recycling something but it’s not supposed to be recycled, it belongs in a different spot,” Rashonda Francois, junior volunteering with the Americorps, said. “You can share this information with friends; let them know that even something as small as pouring your drink into the recycling bin can ruin the entire bin of recycling.”
Rowand also said that a lot of the campus’ landfill waste was coming from restaurants’ to-go containers, then describing the office’s potential plan to replace to-go containers around campus with compostable alternatives.
Jy Babin, 30 with Grainger, discussed how, with the data they collected at the audit, they will be able to make a diversion rate, which is a rate of about how much waste they can divert from landfill to recycling.
“This is one of the many things we can do with the sustainability department, at least with Grainger,” Babin said. “We can do a trash audit, we can do a lighting audit, we can do a water audit usage audit. So, it may include different vendors like Kevin to kind of contribute to knowing how much are we wasting, trying to get to zero waste, and trying to just show that we can add value outside of just selling a product.”