by David Chapman
Third annual ‘Garbage on the Green’ event educates, advocates
The University of North Florida got trashed Wednesday.
As part of the third annual “Garbage on the Green” event, close to 150 volunteers spent part of their day collecting both trash and recycling from a campus dorm, academic hall, administration building and food court locale then sifted, sorted and weighed each piece before it was categorized as part of a waste audit.
The UNF event gave a visual and statistical representation aimed to educate students, faculty and staff on ways to reduce campus trash while also advocating better recycling and litter prevention habits.
In addition to the four building sweep, a campus-wide clean up event kicked off the morning with demonstrations and informational and interactive booths drawing interest throughout the day.
“It’s been our biggest turnout for the event to date,” said April Moore, program manager of the UNF Environmental Center. “It’s really about enlightening people on waste and things they can do to make a difference .... I think every person can do one small thing, change a small part of their waste habits.”
Nonmatching shoes and clothing were some of the uncommon things volunteers found, she said, while items like batteries and some paint thinner were the only two potentially harmful materials found in the sweep. Food wrappers of all shapes and sizes were the most common items found.
Many of the student volunteers were part of programs of study that encouraged participation, she said, but the overall level of interest from students was strong said one coordinator.
“There was really a lot of interest,” said Colleen Herms, who helped coordinate the efforts on the student side. “A lot of people are getting on board with sustainability and accepting it. An event like this highlights some of the efforts out there.”
For one volunteer, the day volunteering by sifting through some of the collected garbage wasn’t as bad as one might believe.
“It’s actually kind of fun,” said volunteer Candace Cox. “It makes for a good reminder of all the waste out there and keeps it fresh in your mind.”
Cox was just one of the numerous volunteers in hazardous material style uniforms weighing the collected material for a waste audit — a systematic study of what was thrown away — with the information used to analyze best practices to improve waste reduction.
Another hadn’t planned on volunteering but changed his mind when he saw the effort.
“I got one of the free cups of coffee then thought I should give back some,” said Zach Morris-Webb, smiling as he organized plastic bottles. “It’s kind of gross, but fun.”
Collected data from UNF’s “Garbage on the Green” event should be available within the next several, said officials.