Closing the Loop
From feeding food scraps to pigs on the campus farm to a student-run campus-wide recycling effort, Green Mountain College makes every attempt to reduce waste and re-integrate it into the product stream whenever possible. Over the last three years, we have increased our waste diversion rate by over 20% by expanding our compost and e-waste programs, while increasing the efficiency of the recycling crew. We now have a steady 50% waste diversion rate. These gains were the result of our latest waste plan (Link to “Waste Diversion Plan 2013.2014”). Most of the work was carried out by student proposals and student projects aimed at reducing consumption, increasing reuse, and making recycling easier. Maybe you want to be part of developing and implementing our next waste plan.
We are going to keep working hard on this issue, as the College strives to divert 99% of recyclable and compostable material from the landfill stream by the year 2020 as part of the Sustainability 2020 strategic plan to achieve authentic sustainability.
If you want to dive into the data, check out our annual waste reports here:
FY 2015 Waste Report
Every day Green Job Corps students and student volunteers pick up food waste from the kitchen, dining hall and residence halls. Ever wonder what happens to it next?
Food waste from the dining hall comes from two streams: pre-consumer and post-consumer. Pre-consumer waste comes from the kitchen and includes scraps from the prep-cook process, as well as left-over unused food at the end of each night. Post-consumer waste comes from dining hall visitors cleaning off their plates. Both of the streams are weighed each day and then brought to the farm by hand-drawn carts, where it is added to windrow compost piles. To ensure a desirable carbon-nitrogen ratio, a source of carbon is then added to cover the food and this includes items like oversized woodchips from the biomass plant or dry leaves from campus lawn clean up. After the food decomposes, the organic waste transforms into the consistency of soil and it is used as fertilizer on the college farm.
Food waste from the residence halls and office buildings are collected in the green-colored waste stream as part of our student-made three-bin waste stations. This material is consolidated with the dining hall waste every evening, is weighed, and then brought to the farm to add to the compost piles.
Zero-Sort Recycling Program
Every day student workers collect all the recycling from campus using a bicycle-powered cart. Recyclable items can be disposed of together in one stream in any three-bin station under the blue-colored stream or in any gray-bin that has the zero-sort label on it and the blue bags.
Recyclables include plastics 1-7, paper, cardboard, glass, newspaper, aluminum and metal cans. When it doubt about whether or not something is recyclable, don’t throw it out– recycle it!
Please remember to empty the contents of all containers before putting them in a recycling bin. Your student peers are the ones who empty them out by hand.
Zero-Sort Recycling is responsible for this service on our campus. It was introduced to Green Mountain College’s campus in November of 2011. Casella, a local company in Rutland, uses a state-of-the-art sorting machine that involves a number of innovative technologies including rotating disc screens, magnetic currents and optical sorters to sift through recycling and separate one material from another so you don’t have to.
For more information on what can and cannot be recycled with the Zero-Sort system and what happens behind the scenes, click here.
E-waste collection boxes are located in the library, all major office buildings, and all residence halls. They collect desktop computers, laptops, hard drives, radios, monitors, projectors, cell phones, DVD players, VHS players, CDs, DVDs, batteries and unbroken lightbulbs (Broken lightbulbs are handled by the custodial crew in each building). In addition to routine collection, the IT department and sustainability office co-host a large-scale e-waste collection event during Earth Week every year, where an e-waste recycling company comes to campus and accepts e-waste on the spot.
Green Move-In & Move-Out
Participate in Green Move Out at the end of each spring semester! This campus-wide effort reduces waste and raises awareness about over-consumption. Students bring re-usable items to each building’s lounge during the last week of school.
GMC community members are invited to browse and take what they will use; remaining items are donated to area shelters and nonprofit organizations, or added to the campus Free Store, a clearinghouse for free used items. Over the last three years, we’ve diverted an average of 5,600 lbs of reusable stuff during Green Move Out.
Each fall, the stored items are displayed in front of the Student Center during First-year Orientation. Incoming students are encouraged to come and take what they need. This effort has minimized the purchase of new items like furniture, mini-fridges, televisions, hangers, clothes, storage units, kitchen and school supplies that are purchased new to bring to school.
Free Store & Freepo
Need something like clothes, office supplies, or appliances? GMC offers a Freestore of reclaimed items in the basement of the Withey student center. Students, staff, and faculty can shop at the Freestore for free Monday through Friday. GMC also offers a Freepo full of used office supplies in the basement of the administrative building, Pollock. Both stores are free to members of the GMC community and accept donations of second-hand items. But, make sure to check the Freebox on the floor of your residence hall. You might be able to find what you need without even having to walk outside!