By Nick Toselli
While not operating at 100 percent efficiency, Bentley University and its students are above the benchmark when it comes to waste awareness. According to the EPA, out of all the waste dispensed into trash receptacles only 30 percent is properly recycled. The rest occupies a landfill for hundreds of years to come.
“We are doing a little bit better here at Bentley,” said sustainability professor Thomson P. Davis of the Natural and Applied Sciences Department. “I hear the recent dumpster dive found that about half of the garbage collected was disposed properly”.
Better than Waltham for example, the town currently recycles approximately 12 percent of the recyclable material that enters dumps and landfills. You may ask, “Wow, why wasn’t I aware of this?” The Bentley Green Society and RHA Eco Reps alike instituted Waste Awareness Week to satisfy your wonder. They made it their mission this past week for Bentley Students to put some thought into the materials they throw away.
November 11 kicked off the waste crusade with a screening of “Addicted to Plastic” in the Wilder Pavilion, which can be viewed on Netflix. The group of thirty or so students and faculty who attended the film caught a new perspective on the unnoticed problem of plastics and micro-plastics penetrating ecosystems and food chains.
Later in the week Eco Reps had a clear and sunny day on November 13 to conduct a dumpster dive on the Greenspace. Randomly selected bags from the Collins dumpster were sorted and documented to gain a better understanding of how well students are disposing trash. The event was a success but also hinted that students could be making money off their recyclables; the Greenbean Recycling Machine available for use in basement of Collins.
Bentley reports big numbers on the Greenbean website. This month alone the campus has recycled more than 4 times the amount of containers than those smooth engineers over at MIT. Go Falcons.
Along with recyclables Waste Awareness coordinators used the week to target food waste. November 13 and 20 were dedicated to weighing and seeing the difference in food waste over a few days. Kevin Ma was stationed at seasons with Lean Path, a program purchased by Sodexo to weigh and track waste trends. The hands-on opportunity to weigh food placed conveyor belt left some students pretty surprised.
Kevin remarked, “The event really made some kids realize how much food they were throwing away.”
Professor Davis recalled a movement years ago that removed trays from student dining to keep the cost of meal plans from rising. Despite some angry backlash from the student body, food waste was cut in half.
In addition, the Green Society hosted a water bottle taste test for students to detect differences in tap, filtered and bottled water. Testers found chilled water from the faucet hardly distinguishable in comparison. When it comes to water, it’s a little tough to justify paying $1.50 for a bottle with a bubbler down the hall.
The Waste Awareness presence on campus works to better Bentley when it comes to recycling and cutting down waste. Students have a chance to keep Bentley a leader in sustainable practices. Just take a second to think, use that blue recycling bin and flick off the lights.