Composting is Hot
To make the case to improve and increase the breadth of the residential composting program, the UVM Eco-Reps carried out a composting campaign in during the 2017 fall semester. Not only is this an important aspect of the university’s sustainability progress, but it is also a means of promoting good habits for students who eventually move off-campus into the greater Burlington area, a city in which residential composting is promoted. At the UVM, the Recycling and Waste Management program and the UVM Eco-Reps have identified a lack of understanding of composting within on-campus residential halls. Although composting efforts remain high within dining halls, the composting program is not as widely utilized or understood on a campus wide level. As the process of personal composting is met with misconceptions and reservations, the perspectives from students and front desk staff hinder the ability of the composting program to be more widespread.
Through means of increased outreach, education, and promotion, the campaign goal was to increase composting efforts within residential halls. Eco-Reps connected with front desk managers to close the knowledge gap and encourage their staff to promote the use of the bags. Each front desk was provided with a reference sheet detailing composting in residential halls to help staff answer questions from residents and referring them to the manager of the composting program if needed. The Eco-Reps also hosted a variety of tabling sessions and events throughout the campaign. Tabling and events were used as a means of educating students about composting and providing additional resources such as composting bags and informational guides.
Although the impact of provided information isn’t entirely measurable, the 623 attendees at the various events received information about composting and the impact of organics on waste streams. These events also provided an opportunity for students to learn about how to compost in the ResHalls, and what resources are available for doing so. A total of 218 personal compost bags were distributed, while many more students were made aware of how to receive a bag and where to properly dispose of compost. Read more about our campaign.
During the first half of the Fall 2017 semester, the UVM Eco-Reps carried out the Eco-Ware Everywhere! campaign to increase EcoWare memberships and uses of EcoWare in retail dining locations. Through increased outreach and promotion, the campaign goal was to increase EcoWare memberships, uses of EcoWare at retail dining locations, and overall awareness about waste reduction in retail dining locations.
UVM implemented reusable EcoWare to-go containers in retail locations 2011. Data collected from the past 4 years has shown that EcoWare uses became concentrated in residential dining locations once the program was expanded there in 2015 and usage has fallen much lower in retail locations. Due to the volume of disposable containers used in retail locations, there is a significant opportunity for waste reduction if usage there increases.
Based on the residential location and its proximity to retail dining locations, each team was assigned anywhere from one to three dining locations to focus their outreach on, with a total of nine locations being addressed. Each team was responsible for tabling at these dining locations throughout a three-week period. On a community team level, Eco-Reps promoted EcoWare in specific locations by tabling and acknowledging existing members while simultaneously signing up new EcoWare members. Using the data from those locations for each week, the process and impact was recorded and compared with data from previous years. Along with tabling, the Eco-Reps designed stickers to be handed out and new signage for retail dining locations, reminding students and faculty to use EcoWare and notifying them of the increased discount offered when using EcoWare. In an effort of campus-wide outreach, the Eco-Reps ran an Instagram photo contest throughout the campaign. The contest sought to promote the program by encouraging students to submit photos of them using EcoWare and tagged with #sutsainableuvm. A $100 gift card to a campus retail dining location was the prize awarded for the best photo.
The total amount of EcoWare uses in retail dining locations after the five week period was 2,209. In comparison to previous years, this figure is a 59.4% increase from 2016 and a 183.2% increase from 2015. Read more about our campaign.
Green Mountain Compost Tours
In an effort to conduct campus wide outreach and education, the Eco-Reps facilitated a tour to the Green Mountain Compost facility towards the end of the Curb Your Consumerism! campaign. The purpose of this tour was to educate students about where their organics are sent and processed after leaving the university. The Eco-Reps promoted the tour through outreach with in various related courses, offering the opportunity to over 1000 students. Additionally, extra credit for specific courses was offered to over 700 students if they participated in the tour.
One Less Cup
Our goal in the 2016 One Less Cup campaign was to educate students, faculty, and staff that we can all reduce waste and save money by bringing our own cup for coffee, tea, and fountain drinks.
In January 2007, University Dining Services instituted a generous discount on all refills of coffee and fountain soda on campus. All refills were priced as a "small" drink when you brought your own refillable, reusable mug or cup, regardless of size. The intent of the discount was to encourage students, staff and faculty to bring their own cup.
Waste Sorting at UVM Quiz
This quiz will not only test your knowledge, but also help Eco-Reps better understand what students already know about sorting waste on campus and what still needs to be rinforced so we can do better outreach.
Each semester, the Eco-Reps partner with campus events to help all attendees make the right choices when disposing of their organic, recyclable, and landfill waste. These events include first year orientation, Staff Appreciation Day, Green the Gutt, Admitted Student Visit Days, and IRA events like Wing Fest and Pie Fest. We always enjoy reaching out in this way, and how it gives us a clearer picture of UVM's waste culture!
Weigh the Waste
Each year, the Eco-Reps partner up with UVM Dining for Weigh the Waste. Through this annual event, the Eco-Reps are able to intervene with student waste right at the compost bin. For a week, Eco-Reps help students in dining halls sort their edible and inedible organic waste, along with recyclables and landfill trash, each day. This waste is then weighed and compiled with the waste data collected each year since 2007.
The 2017 Weigh the Waste results found that an average unlimited dining student wastes 1.77 ounces of food per meal, which further reflects the waste of 537.26 gallons of virtual water (virtual water is the volume of freshwater it takes for this food production, unlike the often negligible real content of water in the food). This figure has dropped considerably since 2012, when the average unlimited dining student wasted 2.67 ounces of food per meal, equal to the waste of 1,012.9 gallons of virtual water. In the past 10 years the study has observed a decrease in student food waste, equal to saving of 682.54 gallons of virtual water, 0.45 gallons of fossil fuels, and 8.98 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per meal per unlimited dining student.
The Curb Your Consumerism! campaign finale was a collaborative event with the Skinny Pancake on campus, who was holding an outdoor concert series called the Whirly Gigs. Eco-Reps acted as a student partner, and tabled at the event with waste sorting and EcoWare inspired carnival games with prizes. Participants were able to help create EcoWare-inspired paintings, that are now showcased at the Davis Center Marketplace!
Cigarette Butt Clean-Ups | Spring 2019 | Makayla Salas '20
While UVM is a smoke-free campus, cigarette butt litter is still unfortunately a ubiquitous sight. To combat the environmentally-harmful waste, and create a healthier, cleaner environment for students and staff, Change Agent Makayla organized routine cigarette butt clean-ups on campus hotspots. Students volunteered the last Sunday of each month in Spring semester 2018 to beautify the campus, and become aware of how much cigarette litter affects our daily experiences here. This project was carried out in conjunction with Grounds Services and student, Brigitte Durieux, who helped to provide supplies and organization, respectively. The work on ridding campus of cigarette butt litter is being continued by Change Agent Jacob during the 2018-2019 year.
Compost in Bailey-Howe | Spring 2019 | Jillian Scannell '20
Change Agent Jillian worked hard to bring composting to the library after hearing many students' disappointment that the Bailey Howe doesn't have compost. After learning more about the history of the composting program at UVM and conducting a waste receptical audit, Jillian met with her stakeholders to propose a composting pilot program. She assembled a team that included Gerald Coleman and Guy Shane from Custodial Services, Corey Berman from UVM Recycling, Scott Miller the Maintenance Coordinator for Libraries, and Cathy Barrows from the UVM Dining. After meeting, the group has decided to implement a pilot composting program with the hopes of implementing an official composting program in the Bailey Howe Library Fall 2018.
Compost in Waterman | Spring 2019 | Krista Sanstone '20
Change Agent Krista worked alongside UVM Recycling to put compost bins outside of the Waterman Cafe, one of the only retail dining locations on campus without a composting option. She is also working to place compost bins inside the Waterman building's bathrooms, specifically to collect the unbleached paper towels used there. Krista is advertising for both of these projects across the building. Data is being collected and analyzed from a waste audit to measure the success of the projects. Her goals are to help students better understand, and better use, the composting option when disposing of their waste, as well as diverting more of this waste from landfills.
Waste Sorting Video for First-Years | Spring 2019 | Bekah Kuster '20, Bella Maidoff '19, Rose Nixon '19
Change Agents Bekah, Bella, and Rose created an instructional video about recycling and composting in Chittenden County. The waste sorting video is intended to show to first years in the Rubenstein School. The video will be shown within students’ first weeks at UVM in Rubenstein core classes. The video is simple, clean, and informative, with text so that it may be shown without sound. We hope the video will decrease contamination in our waste sorting on campus!
Zero Waste Guide | Spring 2019 | Alysa Kelly '20, Izzy Lisle '20, Liz Mackin '21
The goal of the new Zero Waste Guide is to educate, inform, and inspire students to reduce the amount of trash they produce on a daily basis. The creators are three Change Agents--Alysa, Izzy, and Liz --who have a passion for the zero waste lifestyle and turning their knowledge into action. Their mission is to create a tangible set of resources for students to use in order to live more sustainably. The guide holds pages about daily essentials, eating on campus, grocery shopping, bathroom, beauty, cleaning, and green brands that are applicable to college life. We are excited to provide this guide to students in order to share their tips and tricks of the trade, and hope to inspire other students to join the cause as well!