COA's discarded resources exhibition examines our attitudes toward waste.COA's discarded resources exhibition examines our attitudes toward waste. Credit: Kimberly Lopez Castellanos

More than three-quarters of the trash created on campus over the course of a week could have been composted or recycled, according to the results of the annual Discarded Resources Audit.

Out of 835 pounds of waste collected over the course of a week, just 21.5 percent qualifies as trash, while a full half of the material can be composted, according to Lisa Bjerke ’13 MPhil 17, COA’s Discarded Resources Manager. Most of the unsorted material came from the residence halls.

While checking out the waste audit tent, I watched Gillian Welch ’19  sort through a 26 pound bag. After setting aside items for compost and recycling, she ended us discarding just 6 pounds of material. 

“The waste audit is our opportunity to give COA a grade,” Welch said. At this point, she is left wondering, “Do people know how to recycle stuff?”

By renaming waste “discarded resources,” Welch and others are trying to develop a sense of value around the things that we throw away. They are trying to change the way we have learned to disassociate ourselves from our waste.

“Waste is an action, not a thing, “Rachael Goldberg ’19 said. “We are discarding resources.”

Inside the discarded resources exhibition.Inside the discarded resources exhibition. Credit: Kimberly Lopez Castellanos