Living in a college dorm brings newfound independence, freedom, and responsibility, and as young adults in the midst of climate catastrophe, many students feel responsible for the environment and creating more sustainable practices.
While not solving climate change alone, individual action plays an important role in demonstrating the value of environmental protection. Recycling is one of the simplest and most effective individual sustainability practices.
Recycling best practices can be complex and change with every location you are in, but Tech makes recycling easy with clear instructions on how recyclables should be handled in dorms and on campus.
Follow these tips to make your dorm life more sustainable.
The campus community must ensure that waste is separated from recyclables.
Recyclable materials accepted in campus garbage cans are plastic bottles and containers, aluminum and steel cans, and paper and cardboard products.
Glass is also accepted but must be disposed of separately. Tech’s waste management system only accepts brown, green and clear bottles and jars.
Be careful not to put your recyclables in a bag. Plastic bags, such as shopping bags and garbage bags, are not recyclable and any materials they contain will be disposed of as garbage. It is acceptable to leave caps on bottles as the caps are too small to be handled individually by waste management.
While most other materials are trash or compost, some harder-to-recycle materials such as e-waste, plastic bags, and Styrofoam can find a home outside of dorm dumpsters. Through Tech’s network of recycling programs, the most difficult-to-recycle items can be safely disposed of on campus. If you’re looking for more information on recyclable materials, recycle.gatech.edu offers a guide to what materials can be recycled and where.
Another cardinal rule of recycling, wherever you are, is to clean up your recyclables before you drop them off.
“As a general rule, I tell people that if they put their recyclables in a trash can, you should be able to access them without feeling gross,” said Emma Brodzik, zero waste project manager for the Office of Solid Waste. Management and recycling.
“Things need to be rinsed and drained, but not necessarily scrubbed and washed,” Brodzik said.
Brodzik also recommends keeping a separate storage receptacle for recyclables. Sorting recyclables before taking out the trash will save you time and allow you to take out the trash less often. Reusable bags make a great recycling container because they are easy to transport and store between uses.
The last step in the recycling process is to deposit the waste. Tech has a recycling drop-off point on East Campus at the intersection of Sixth Street and Techwood Drive. The Greek Quarter also has a waste collection system. Most buildings on campus have their own recycling bin.
Each residence has a corresponding recycling point. All residence halls except the North Avenue apartments use dumpster sites located outside the building, and some dorms share a dumpster site. North Avenue apartments use a waste chute system which includes recycling.
Dumpster sites have large brown dumpsters for waste, green dumpsters for accepted recyclables, a blue cart for glass, and a black cart for compostables.
These various rules and regulations can be difficult to always follow correctly. When attempting sustainability initiatives such as recycling, it’s easy to doubt its effectiveness. Brodzik emphasized that good recycling practices are important, especially in Georgia, where we have a large market for recycled materials.
Our community’s ongoing dedication to building a safer, cleaner future can be seen throughout campus, from the Kendeda Sustainable Building to the dormitory recycling programs.