“You can recycle that?!”

When I started working for the Sustainability department I knew the basics of recycling, and had a basic understanding of what I could compost. Since they, I have been enlightened in the most eco-friendly of ways. I could probably get a Dr. Seuss spin off book published at this point, and call it, “Oh, the things one can Recycle.” The first big surprise for me came in the form of a milk carton. These are recycled with plastics, not paper. This, too me, was mildly surprising. The next thrilling bit of new information I learned deals with Styrofoam. This foamy substance is in fact..recyclable! Though I was under the impression that it can only be thrown away, we actually can recycle this with wood if it is small enough. Awesome. Composting, I am learning, is about a million times cooler then I realized before working with sustainability. I have had my own personal compost for a while, but have been only using for basic food waste, like banana peels and coffee grounds. Little did I know, many products that touch food waste are also compostable. Paper plates, coffee cups, napkins, and dirty pizza boxes can all be composted. I have also been surprised on some of the things PLU students think are recyclable that most certainly are not. Starting with the grossest: used condom-NOT recyclable. Used Feminine products-NOT recyclable. Half full Doritos bag-NOT recyclable. There are also a few things we find in the garbage that are recyclable that many students do not realize, like a paper coffee cup. Every piece of a coffee cup from the Market is recyclable-the lid goes to plastics, the cardboard sleeve goes to paper, and the cup itself goes to compost. Knowing how much of our “waste” at PLU can actually be recycled is incredibly motivating, especially in the sustainability department, and helps set even higher goals to reduce the amount of garbage on campus. Thinking is a good thing to do before one uses a garbage can.


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