WUGA Move In Initiative - WUGAs and Res Life Housekeeping Staff

Excellence in Community Engagement and Waste Diversion

Since 2013, WashU Green Ambassadors (WUGAs) have participated in a coordinated effort to welcome first year students and quickly get them accustomed to the campus’ sustainability culture. This year, a hands-on approach, greater coordination with the Residential Life custodial staff, and diverting additional materials resulted in significant increases in waste diversion from area landfills and high visibility for incoming students and their families.

The hard-working custodial team received training the morning of Move-in so they could adjust their sorting methods and understand how the student volunteers would supplement their work. The Housing Services Team has always done a great job separating the cardboard, so they are used to doing some level of sorting. Student support enabled them to make some small changes without having to waste time on the more tedious sorting. WUGA Directors Kelli and Savannah worked closely with Residential Life staff to integrate the sorting process into the Move In program. WUGAs proudly wore the iconic “Welcome Home” shirts in a special shade of green to identify them as part of the sustainability team. Presentations and educational material were also delivered to RAs and WUSAs as part of preparation for the students’ arrivals.

As a result, the weight of cardboard, which was separated and recycled as in past years, almost doubled (92% increase) through careful sorting. Styrofoam and plastic bags were separated and collected for specialized recycling for the first time. Landfill waste was reduced by 4,260 lbs (17%). In addition to multiple dumpsters-worth of cardboard, a full 40 cubic yard landfill dumpster was eliminated by separating out Styrofoam and plastic bags. The overall diversion rate improved by at least 8%.