This spring students in Environmental Studies Orientation (ENVR 101) participated in the first ever waste audit of East Campus buildings. The waste audit was part of UNL’s recycling pilot program designed to make campus waste diversion efforts more efficient and accessible. When instructor Hillary Mason first heard about the program, she immediately reached out to Recycling Program Director Morgan Hartman to learn how she and her ENVR 101 students could help.
Environmental Studies Orientation aims to not only introduce students to a system’s thinking approach to sustainability, but also develop an understanding of the dependence of all people on the environment and the potential consequences human activities have on local and global processes. In the process of sorting and calculating percentages of waste collected from Hardin Hall, Agricultural Hall, and Filley Hall, students were able to identify places in the waste stream system that could be leveraged for improvement. Students’ findings from the waste audit were shared with Morgan who would then make a determination about how to increase the amount of waste diverted from the landfill and improve education and communication of recycling best practices.
As result of this unique collaboration between UNL Recycling Services and the Environmental Studies Program, students were able advance their own knowledge of waste diversion on campus, as well as experience feelings of self-efficacy toward making a difference in their UNL community. The overall positive impact will lead to a stronger relationship between classroom learning and sustainability efforts on campus.