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Sustainability at ESF
Waste Audits

Sifting through trash, recycling and compost has been a long standing and favorite activity on campus! This data is invaluable to the Office of Sustainability because it helps us to tailor our zero waste educational messaging to campus and improve zero waste infrastructure (ex: bins). It also helps us to determine what single use products are being used on campus that could potentially be eliminated. Detailed information like this tells a deep story about what campus brings to and discards from campus.

The Mighty Oak Student Assembly's SustainabiliTEAM conducts monthly audits of discarded material on campus during the academic year. They post information about "contamination", or items that don't belong in each material stream, by the Gateway Cafe to help educate the campus community.

Whiteboard with data showing campus contamination rates over time

EcoReps, paid student educators who live in Centennial Hall, began conducting audits of the dorm's trash, recycling and compost during the Spring 2022 semester. They found that 30% of the trash's weight was material that should have been composted! This sparked an education campaign and a discussion about how to make composting easier for students living in the dorm. CenTen will begin piloting in room compost bins during the Spring 2023 semester. 

Two student EcoReps battle with styrofoam swoards, as other EcoReps look on smiling and laughing

EcoReps had some fun during the Fall 2022 CenTen Move-In Waste Audit

Items, mostly plastic, laid out on a tarp in a neat and orderly fashion

These items belong in the trash or can be reused, but were found in the recycling bin during move-in!

During Fall 2022, the Office of Sustainability led open-to-all trash and recycling audits. The results can be found here. We hope to lead two sets of audits each academic year - one in the Fall and one in the Spring. 

Interested in conducting an audit? Reach out to the Office of Sustainability to request a step-by-step guide and safety instructions.