As part of a group project, we compiled information about what you throw away at UCSD dining halls. We noticed that many students sort their trash wrong. There is a lot of plastic in the compost bin and food in the recycling bin, and students either don't understand why proper sorting is important or don't know what belongs in each bin. We're hoping that by providing some information about it that it will be less of an issue in the future.
Below we have some basic information about the basics of waste sorting and why it's important, links to our sources and further reading, and pages that we have made as resources for education.
- Composting reduces waste
- Organic waste makes up 25-50% of what people throw away
- When thrown away it decomposes in landfills and releases methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas
- Compost is great for plants, lawns, and gardens
- Increases organic matter in soil
- Helps plants absorb nutrients already in the soil
- Makes clay soils more airy and drain better
- Helps sandy soils retain water
- Helps balance pH of soil
- Can extend growing season by moderating soil temp.
- Can help control soil erosion
- Provides excess nutrients for worms (vermicompost)
- Compost conserves resources for
- Water: Compost helps soak up water, then slowly release it to the plants, also allowing you to water less. It also can keep water from evaporating by acting as mulch
- Energy and fuel: Not only does it keep this material out of landfills, but keeps it from being transported as well.
- Composting saves money
- In areas where you pay for your trash weight, the savings can be huge. Because much of compost contains a lot of water, compost weight is significant. Also, you don’t need to buy compost from the store.
More on the benefits of composting
How to compost at home
Recycling at UCSD
- List of recyclables on campus:
- Containers, including: Glass, steel, and tin
- Plastic bottles and containers with the #1-7 recycling symbol on the bottom (rigid plastic only, not plastic film)
- Aluminum cans and clean foil
- Aerosol cans that contain no propellant or material
- Mixed paper
- Molded Styrofoam packaging
- How to recycle properly on campus:
- Keep all recycling containers free of trash.
- Empty containers before recycling them.
- Remove lids from glass containers and flatten cans and plastic bottles whenever possible.
- Empty and flatten all cardboard boxes and place them inside recycling bins. (Do not leave boxes near bins, dumpsters, or on loading docks.)
- With paper, remove metal, plastic bindings, rubber bands, and plastic bags. (Staples do not need to be removed.)
- Place materials in any campus recycling container, including office bins.
- Materials that CAN'T be recycled on campus
- Carbon paper
- Wax-coated papers
- Plastic-coated papers
- Tissue or paper towels
- Paper or containers contaminated by food or other organic waste
- Plastic film
- Styrofoam food containers and packing peanuts
Infographics we made
Graphic Information on Dining Hall Trash
Plastics Recycling Numbers