Getting Trashed: Garbology comes to PLU

by Genny Boots, News Writer

Lutes are getting “trashed” this Saint Patrick’s Day. Tuesday, March 17 is the annual Garbology event at Pacific Lutheran University’s Red Square. During Garbology, students get the chance to see all the waste produced on campus in one day.

For the sixth annual RecycleMania challenge, the Sustainability Department is airing out the waste management garbage at PLU.

photo by Genny Boots Garbage on campus is collected and disposed of properly without any students noticing usually.

Garbology is just one event out of an eight-week RecycleMania challenge. Other events include an E-cyclemania drive to recycle electronics and a showing of the Disney movie “Wall-E.”

However, the perennial favorite and finale of PLU’s RecycleMania is the all-day trash-a-thon. Over the course of the day, students are invited to sort through all the university’s trash collected from the day before. This includes all residence hall, classroom and dining hall waste.

“The Garbology event is exciting because it is a visual representation, in a high profile area, of what is going on on campus with our waste,” PLU waste division coordinator, Ryan Grant said.

The primary focus of Garbology is to show how much garbage can be prevented from going to the landfill.

photo by Genny Boots Garbage is collected from around campus and brought to Facilities  Management and the Sustainability headquarters to be sorted and disposed of properly.
photo by Genny Boots Garbage is collected from around campus and brought to Facilities Management and the Sustainability headquarters to be sorted and disposed of properly.

“Of the majority of our waste on campus, 75 percent of the waste can be diverted immediately from going into the landfill and of that another 40 percent of it can be saved, recycled or reused” Grant said. “Of the waste that we are taking to a landfill on a daily basis, only 10 percent really needs to go into the garbage.”

Initially started by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, RecycleMania is an international campaign and competition to raise awareness about recycling, conservation and waste management at universities.

The campaign began ten years ago between Miami University and Ohio University. Now, more than 350 sustainability programs on campuses across the U.S. and Canada are participating for the eight week competition.

The PLU sustainability team collects and measures the amounts of co-mingled waste, glass and compost. This acts as a benchmark for the recycling program and provides a gauge on how well the campus is responding to conservation initiatives.

“Our only job is to report accordingly to how much [waste] we have by either visual estimation or physical weight” Grant said.

According to the RecycleMania website, PLU is ranked sixth out of 214 universities, with a recycling rate of 76.225 percent per capita.

Of all the waste collected, Lutes are recycling three quarters of what they could be. This is the highest rank PLU has ever achieved, last year placing 47th.

“I think it is really cool,” junior Katie Coddington said. “I think it is a really great way for PLU Sustainability to get their name out there and a good publicity thing to make people aware of what they are throwing away.” 🅼

Samantha Lund

Samantha Lund was the Editor in Chief at The Mast, a student-run newsroom within Pacific Lutheran University, in 2015-16. Lund created Mast Magazine in 2015 to give students a forum for long form news pieces. She could be found writing for Pacific Lutheran University's Marketing and Communication site or interning at MOViN 92.9's morning talk show in Seattle. Other places to find her content include: Alaska Airlines blog and website, The News Tribune and The Bremerton Harald.

Leave a Reply