On Nov. 9, members of Selkirk College’s Environment Club and the Sustainability Committee sorted through garbage and recycling bins on the Castlegar Campus. Their ultimate goal is to help students and employees make better choices in working toward sustainability. (Selkirk College)

Selkirk College digs in for audit of campus cafeteria waste

“We wanted to determine whether recyclable or compostable materials were being put in the garbage.”

CASTLEGAR – As Selkirk College strives for sustainability, members of the Selkirk College Sustainability Committee and the Environment Club recently sorted through garbage and recycling bins on campus to determine how students and employees could be doing a better job at waste reduction.

“We wanted to determine whether recyclable or compostable materials were being put in the garbage,” says Sustainability Coordinator Laura Nessman. The hardy crew collected one day’s worth of waste from the Castlegar Campus Cafeteria and The Pit. The bags weighed in at 20 kilograms of garbage and six kilograms of recycling. After tearing the bags open and sorting them into piles, it was revealed that about 30 per cent of what was going in the garbage on campus should be going in a different bin.

Next, paper and plastic recycling was examined. The audit showed a contamination rate of 6.83 per cent which means just less than seven per cent of what was put in recycling bins did not belong. Recycle BC sets the goal of three per cent contamination for the province and the City of Nelson currently shows 5.9 per cent.

“Sorting through the garbage was eye-opening for everyone involved,” says Nessman. “We found 133 disposable cups and 28 cafeteria to-go containers – and this was from just one day. Bringing your own reusable mug, water bottle and bowl are great ways to go green.”

Nessman says there was a lot of food waste in the garbage bins. Selkirk College has a compost program running which allows people to dispose of campus derived organic waste as well as food scraps from home. Diverting organic material out of the waste stream can significantly reduce overall waste.

Selkirk College is currently engaging in an awareness campaign to help students and employees realize small changes that can be made in daily lives for a big impact on the environment. The Environment Club has also done outreach with games and prizes accompanying the message that waste reduction is everyone’s responsibility.

“Selkirk College is a wonderful place where students come to prepare for their future,” says Nessman. “It’s important to consider how our daily choices have lasting impacts. Making small changes to our daily routines can significantly reduce our waste. Let’s work together toward a sustainable Selkirk College.”

What else can you do?

Reduce your use, recycle and compost:

Bring your own reusable coffee mug! The cafeteria gives you a discount and your coffee stays warm for longer.

Remember your reusable shopping bags when you go to the grocery store.

If you don’t need a to-go container for your meal, please don’t take one.

Use the green composting bins on campus for your lunch scraps.

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