Trash2Treasure expanding to spread recycling awareness
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
This story was produced as part of “Sustainable Stories,” a reporting project by news writing students in the UNH Journalism Program. You can find more from the project at sustainu.org.
In the handwriting of eager college students, quotes are written on the wooden shelves of a bookcase in a small room on the bottom floor of the Memorial Union Building. Filled with environmental science and global ecology handbooks, the third shelf from the bottom reads the words of American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The dozens of books and the quoted words are an inspiration to the few Trash2Treasure members that occupy the room every Wednesday night. Trash2Treasure is a student-run program that replaced the UNH Recycle Everything New/Used (RENU) program last year.
UNH sophomore Emily Spognardi, coordinator of the new group, stands in front of a board with homemade bottle-cap earrings and a bracelet made from soda can tabs as she addresses the five familiar faces before her.
“So, we’re starting a band,” Spognardi said.
The students sitting in the small room laughed as Spognardi revealed it was a joke and crossed it off the meeting’s itinerary on the whiteboard.
During the critical meetings in its second year, the group is rallying to get support from other UNH students. Spognardi said that the main focus of the meetings this year is advertising and marketing.
UNH freshman and Trash2Treasure member Sophie Rathjen handed out flyers, a poster and a pamphlet that she created for feedback. Two flyers inform students how the program works and how they can participate, and another has an eye-catching picture of a couch on fire with the caption, “Don’t be that guy.”
“They take down all of the flyers on the bulletin boards every Sunday,” senior member Greg Mulcahy said. “We should go around every Monday and make sure there’s a flyer on every bulletin board.”
UNH Housing Sustainability Steward Dwain Lozier was impressed with the group’s first-year success, but said that the lack of volunteers was a major problem.
“Luckily, they have a dedicated core,” Lozier said.
Spognardi and co-coordinator Daniel Mannarino are responsible for running the meetings and delegating tasks to members. Mannarino, Spognardi, Rathjen, Mulcahy, Sierra D’Amours and Fiona Gettinger have spent recent days juggling the pressures of upcoming finals while creating posters and making plans to prepare for move-out day.
The group is working hard to recruit volunteers around campus. Spognardi recently had a meeting with student-athletes as well as with members of the Greek Life community to push them to acknowledge the Trash2Treasure organization.
Spognardi said she had been hounding head of Greek Life, Sara Pope, for months to get a meeting, until she made a personal visit and got the job done.
“Sara has been very helpful with promoting it [the organization] to Greek Life,” Spognardi said. “There wasn’t too much immediate interest [at the meeting], but I am going to have Sara keep pressuring them to sign up.”
To help the appeal of the program, the Trash2Treasure members will set up a day with Greek Life designated to picking up their move-out “trash.” Fraternities and sororities will fill up their front yards with treasures to be collected by one of two U-Haul trucks.
“The bulk of the program runs during finals week,” Spognardi said, explaining why they struggle to get volunteers.
The brochure that Rathjen created aims to educate students about the importance of recycling. It states that waste decomposing in landfills produces methane gas and other chemicals and toxins that contribute to the greenhouse effect, pollute waterways, soil and air, and poison plants and wildlife.