Community Waste

WashU Green Ambassadors Lead by Example

This August, a new cohort of WashU Green Ambassadors started their journey to spread sustainability culture on campus with a two-day retreat at Shaw Nature Reserve. During this retreat, the Green Ambassadors connected over team-building activities and received training in various aspects of sustainability at WashU, including green buildings, waste-sorting, alternative transportation, and dining. This year, the WUGA team is made up of many returning second-year students, eager to make an impact on the South 40 and beyond. The variety of activities at the retreat proved that there is no classroom better than nature itself – from hiking on prairies and river banks to sharing sustainability intentions outside the cabins – the WUGAs not only learned about sustainability, they experienced it throughout their stay in the unique retreat setting.

Immediately following the retreat, the WUGAs combined their efforts on first year Move-In Day as they introduced first-year students to the WashU sustainability culture through the lens of waste sorting. As the WUGAs diverted recyclable materials and reduced landfill waste generated throughout Move-in Day, they also welcomed first-year students to their new home. In front of every residential building on the South 40, Green Ambassadors could be seen greeting students and parents, hustling over piles of deconstructed cardboard boxes, and passing out flyers with tips on how to have a successful, sustainable move-in experience.

The WUGAs were incredibly fortunate to be able to work with housekeeping staff in their waste diversion efforts – from helping unload recyclables into dumpsters to clearing the residential halls of recyclable waste – WUGAs and housekeeping staff worked hand-in-hand as they facilitated the move-in process for students and parents. The collaborative efforts paid off – 28,000lbs of move-in materials were diverted from landfills through intentional separation and recycling of cardboard, styrofoam and soft plastics. The data also suggests that the overall quantity of materials has been reduced when comparing 2017 to 2018. Kudos to the Class of 2022 for reducing your waste! Decreasing consumption and simplifying material belongings has substantial implications for resource conservation and future disposal costs.

Following Move In, the fun continued as WUGAs staffed waste sorting stations at many First 40 events, including the Celebration on the Quad tradition following Convocation. Each of these events surpassed 90% waste diversion, sending far more materials to recycling and compost facilities than landfills.

During the 2018-2019 school year, WUGAs will continue working on a variety of projects in partnership with the Office of Sustainability. The most visible project will be the expansion of a residential hall compost collection pilot project. With the pilot project expanding from one to five dorms on the South 40, the WUGAs are excited for the opportunity to provide residents with the option to conveniently compost in their own living spaces.

To get involved with the WashU Green Ambassadors and become a part of all the revolutionary changes happening on campus, connect with the WUGA Directors by filling out this contact information form.

This article was written by Claire Ji and Alexis Tinoco, WashU Green Ambassador group leaders.