Students to Put Focus On Recycling With ‘Dumpster Dive’

Release Date: April 2, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A group of University at Buffalo students plan to get really close to campus trash and they're hoping that classmates, faculty and administrators will join them.

Their goal: To raise awareness about how much garbage people generate on campus and how much of it is recyclable by sorting recyclable material from the "real" trash.

On April 16, as a prelude to Earth Day, the six environmentally-minded UB students and their recruits will sort through a day's trash collected from all classroom, administrative and dorm buildings on UB's North and South campuses (with the exception of buildings that generate hazardous waste.)

The trash will consist of anything that has been disposed of in a garbage receptacle.

Open to all members of the UB community, the "Dumpster Dive" will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., between the Student Union and Bell Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Protective coveralls, goggles, gloves and masks (as well as pastries and coffee for breakfast and pizza for lunch) will be provided to participants, who will be supervised and informed of potential risks. Despite its name, the event will not involve anyone diving into a dumpster.

The students got the idea for the event after conducting a trash analysis of three buildings on campus as part of an environmental internship with UB's University Facilities.

"We were just amazed," said Randi Mail, a UB sophomore from Staten Island. "Seeing all this garbage that could have been recycled, it makes you feel responsible."

As part of the project, the students also surveyed their peers about recycling.

According to the students' calculations, UB offices recycle between 30 and 40 per cent of their waste while in the dorms the figure may be lower.

"People don't know what they can recycle," said Mail. "Some of the students we surveyed in the residence halls didn't know that regular paper could be recycled, they thought only newsprint could be recycled."

The New York State Solid Waste Management Act of 1988 stipulates that state institutions should be recycling half of their waste.

In their analysis of one day's trash generated by Capen Hall alone, the main administrative building, the students discovered in the trash 330 pounds of paper and cardboard and 90 pounds of bottles and cans -- all of which are recyclable.

They also found 50 pounds of paper and foam cups.

Out of 700 pounds of trash, only 230 pounds of it was garbage that could not be recycled or somehow eliminated through a waste reduction strategy, such as encouraging people to drink from reusable mugs.

In the dorms, the students discovered half-full recycling bins and recyclable materials in the trash. They concluded that it was due to a lack of information about, and access to, recycling facilities.

Out of 390 pounds of garbage in one residence hall, 130 pounds was recyclable.

"There just aren't enough recycling bins in the dorms, and in some cases they aren't even on every floor," said Jodi Freilich, a UB senior from Plainview. "The students told us that if the bins were more accessible they'd recycle more."

They hope the "Dumpster Dive" will encourage the university to provide more recycling bins in residence halls, and all over campus.

"UB welcomes the efforts of these students and is committed to increasing recycling to 50 percent as stated in the university's recycling policy," said Walter Simpson, UB energy officer and the students' internship advisor.

Other UB students helping to organize the event are Robert Horvath of Rochester, Robert Nash of Catskill, Meghan Fay of Vestal and Erin Cala of Jamestown.

For more information, contact Randi Mail at or call Rachel Martin at 829-3535.

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