Trash talk minimizes campus garbage
Ninth semester student Syd Clark’22 (they/them) created a new way to handle campus garbage.
Here’s a sobering statistic: Beloit’s campus generates about three tons of trash each week. But an improved approach, spearheaded by a ninth-semester student, streamlines its handling — and reduces its bulk through better recycling practices.
Syd Clark’22 (they/them) initiated the program, called Sustain Beloit. With a commitment to sustainability and an insider’s knowledge as a student worker in facilities, Clark became aware that far too many recyclables were going into the trash because they were contaminated. Clark also saw firsthand how Beloit’s manual approach to collecting trash was sapping time and energy from too many people, including housekeeping staff, who were schlepping bags in and out of buildings for groundskeeping to later transport across campus to dumpsters.
Sustain Beloit, implemented in August, places the responsibility for trash and recycling on the individuals generating it. “It’s time for Beloiters to own their trash,” says Clark.
The campus community shares the load by sorting their own recyclables and garbage in color-coded containers indoors, which they take to receptacles outdoors for weekly trash pickup by a waste hauler.
As part of the rollout, Clark is overseeing an informational campaign that focuses on recycling rules, the role of plastic bags, and other details that keep recyclables from inadvertently going to the landfill.
Clark initially set out to create a campus composting system as part of their environmental studies capstone project but found instead that reinventing the recycling and trash process “was a solution for about 10 different problems.”
Clark acquired startup funding through a $30,000 grant from the Green Loan Fund, a revolving sustainability fund that provides initial capital for campus projects, then allocates a portion of the savings back to the fund for future loans.