Trash2Treasure expanding to spread recycling awareness
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
According to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans created about 250 million tons of trash in 2010. The 6,000 students that live on campus at UNH produce about 25 tons of waste each month; five times that much is produced when students move out in May, according to the brochure.
Trash2Treasure sites will be set up around campus starting on May 7 to collect any trash that students think can be reused or recycled. The 13 extra dumpsters that are filled during move-out days collect waste that would have cost the university over $5,000 to potentially dump in a landfill.
Waste and landfill sites can cause health problems for people, too. The brochure also refers to a study done by the New York State Department of Health that reported that women living near landfill sites with escaping gases had four times the normal rate of bladder cancer and leukemia.
Last year, Trash2Treasure meetings were mostly spent lobbying for permission with Residential Life. This year, meetings are spent brainstorming ideas and making constructive changes to make the second year run smoother.
Grants from the UNH Parent’s Association along with fundraising efforts gave the group the $9,000 they needed to get started. Trash2Treasure collected over 60,000 pounds of reusable goods last year and made $12,000 at their yard sale during move-in, according to the organization.
Group members have contacted local hardware stores and chains such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, asking them to donate plastic bins for storage to replace the cardboard boxes they were using.
The bins cost about $6 each, so if they can get the bins donated, it will give Trash2Treasure a larger budget for advertising and marketing.
Members are also working on raising funds by participating in the Holloway Commons Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition. Competitors must present a business plan, and the winner receives $10,000.The competition includes a two-page submission, a five-page submission, a poster competition, and a final round in front of a panel of judges.
Spognardi said she believes her team has an advantage because they have already put their plan to action.
Lozier said that UNH Housing is working on a small scale to recycle old furniture in the dorms. Three years ago, UNH began recycling mattresses and carpet from dorms to reduce the waste going into landfills, Lozier said. Instead of buying new furniture, UNH Housing has been refinishing and reupholstering common area tables and couches that need repair.
In fact, Lozier said that all of the couches in the suites in Mills Hall have been reupholstered. UNH has a budget of $70,000 to recycle old furniture. It costs about $650 to reupholster a couch.
“I’m not sure if it’s cost-neutral, but we’re not paying a landfill fee, and it’s the right thing to do,” Lozier said.
Lozier stresses the importance of student help in the effort to educate the community about recycling.
UNH Residential Life is trying to make it easier for students living in dorms to recycle by introducing Single Stream Recycling, where students can throw recyclables into one bin.
Williamson Hall Director Allie Auger sends educational information about recycling to Residential Life for them to then send to other hall directors. Auger said that they put a note in newsletters after spring break explaining problems that can occur with not recycling, as well as helpful information about how to recycle.
“In my own building, I went around and spoke to a number of students about recycling and had them identify things that could/could not be recycled,” Auger said.
Auger said she hopes relabeling dumpsters and recycling bins with bright signs will help students choose to recycle come the end of the year.
As the year winds down and students cram into the library to study for finals, Trash2Treasure members will be chalking the sidewalks and plastering bulletin boards with neon posters inviting students to give a helping hand, or perhaps an old couch.
Spognardi admits that she was skeptical of the Trash2Treasure program in the beginning and didn’t expect it to work. She said she quickly learned never to doubt a small group of thoughtful committed citizens.
“If you have an idea, it can happen, especially in sustainability,” Spognardi said. “UNH has so many resources.”