Colorado College students are known for their dedication to environmental sustainability and preservation. From early morning park cleanups to encouraging the Board of Trustees to reduce college investments in fossil fuels, CC students are forces to be reckoned with when it comes to protecting the environment and world we inhabit.  Devan Udall ’22 and Westly Joseph ’21 are two students hoping to build off of CC’s commitment to sustainable living by implementing more options for recycling and making composting more accessible on campus. 

     Though there are recycling and compost bins located all over campus, Joseph and Udall realized that there was still more the college and its students could do. 

   Joseph noticed that a good portion of the college lives in on-campus apartments or senior cottages. These students are typically off the meal plan provided by Bon Appétit, meaning that the majority are cooking meals for themselves and generating more food scraps and waste than a student living in the dorms. Along with the fact that students living in apartments and senior cottages are in charge of disposing of their own trash, Joseph realized that these students could help make the campus a more sustainable place simply by composting the waste they produced in their homes. 

Photo by Nick Penzel

  In order to encourage students to compost their organic waste, compost bins with instructions on proper waste disposal were provided to every apartment and senior cottage. “There have been compost dumpsters all around campus for several years, but we realized that students were not aware of this,” said Joseph. “Even if students knew they were there, they didn’t know that they could dispose of their own compost in them or how to even compost!” Students will be able to drop off their compost at designated compost dumpsters located around campus. The compost collected in these dumpsters will be picked up and industrially composted by Bestway, a Colorado Springs company.

  Udall has started another initiative on campus to make recycling plastic bags easy and accessible for students. Plastic shopping bags and similar items cannot be recycled like other plastics. “Plastic bags take a very long time to decompose in any environment, so during their extensive lifetimes they become a threat to wildlife and their ecosystems” Udall said. “When discarded carelessly in landfills, oceans, or other environments, they often break into many tiny pieces called microplastics. In our planet’s oceans there are more of these microplastics than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.” 

   Udall recently learned that there is a national drop-off system that works to recycle plastic bags and immediately wanted to include CC and its students. He stressed that the program not only takes plastic shopping bags, but any flimsy plastic bag. Examples are such as the airbags in mail packaging, produce bags, and Amazon sleeve packaging.  

  Udall and Joseph hope to change campus culture when it comes to recycling and composting. Joseph states that the composting initiative will make composting “the norm for apartment and senior cottage residents,” she continued. “It also helps further educate students on how to sort their waste which they will hopefully continue to do after their time at at CC,”    Joseph hopes to expand the initiative in the future by including Sodexo, the college’s contracted janitorial service. The expansion would include placing compost bins within all the residence halls and academic buildings on campus. Sodexo would then collect and dispose of the compost. Udall echoed the same aspirations.=. “Sodexo currently discards hundreds of recycling bin liners everyday, and by next year I hope to incorporate these into the system as well.” 

    He also hopes that the plastic bag initiative will encourage students to recycle plastic bags at home as well. Chain grocery stores, like Safeway, Target, and Walmart, have plastic bag drop-offs at the majority of their locations, making it easy for students to continue to recycle off campus. Udall’s main goal for the initiative is to “make us think a little more conservatively about how we use [plastic bags]. Always reuse first!” 

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