The UNCW race to zero waste
WILMINGTON, NC – The Environmental Protection Agency says a single American creates about five pounds of trash a day. At the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), there are over 17,000 students, which means nearly 85,000 pounds of waste can be created every day.
This is why UNCW is working to reduce that number and even hopes to produce zero waste in the future through recycling, composting and more. It’s a goal at hand.
At a recent month’s electronics recycling event, the school aimed to collect 15,000 pounds of trash. They far exceeded this goal and collected almost 25,000 pounds of old electronics.
It is an initiative that the students have really embraced.
“People are asking for more and more compost, whether it’s in their dorms or just at lunch,” said Kat Pohlman, sustainability manager at UNCW. “So now the students have really taken over and started their own program to help with the composting every day at lunchtime and we just hope it grows from there.
With more and more students going green, this zero waste goal seems achievable.
One of those students is Avery Owen, a peer educator in sustainability at UNCW. She participated in the Race to Zero Waste program and piloted the Seahawks Compost Program, which offers compostable collection four days a week. His efforts have helped the school collect nearly 250 tonnes of compostable waste, saving the weight of around 150 landfill cars.
“Diverting him from landfills to a place where he can return to earth or back to a garden and contribute to these biological systems is something really great and green to do,” Owen said. “And besides, it’s really fun.”
An important part of the program’s success is how the campus community has embraced it.
“It really is a great community of people who are truly interested in keeping the environment at the forefront of UNCW’s concerns,” said Avery. “Since we are a coastal university, we have a unique responsibility to keep the health of the planet and the health of the ocean in mind.”
Sustainability efforts on campus don’t stop with recycling and composting. UCNW is also hosting a three-week closet clean-up event that will begin on Wednesday April 28.