Dismayed by the quantity of recyclable goods, especially paper, being thrown in the garbage by students in residence, the then Residence Students’ Association representatives Jason Coles and Kelsey Hamill challenged their fellow roomies to change their ways.
Through a survey, they found that residents weren’t recycling because there was a general lack of knowledge about recycling and awareness of where the centralized recycling bins were located. Coles and Hamill partnered with the Residence Students Association and Residence Services to start a paper recycling pilot project in Kananaskis Hall.
The result was a profound impact on recycling habits and awareness among students.
“We created a friendly competition to see who could recycle the most. Students were really excited about the project and we saw an immediate increase in recycling,” says Hamill.
In fact, the project was so successful that the Residence Students’ Association funded bins for every room using the Alumni Trust Fund, and Residence Services donated 12 transfer bins and provided ongoing support from maintenance staff to empty the bins. Recycling bins are now located in every room unit with transfer bins available on each floor of dormitory-style residences—with hopes to see the program expand to also include transfer bins on each floor of apartment-style residences.
Although making recycling convenient was important, Coles and Hamill maintain that education and training of student leaders to disseminate information were key contributors to the success of their project.
“We’ve worked to create an environment where recycling is valued for students. We hope they’ll continue to recycle as they move on to new residences and teach their friends about the importance,” says Coles. “This is a big step in helping the university reach its goal to become a net zero waste campus.”
Both Coles and Hamill were recognized for their project at the Impact! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership, held in Guelph, Ont. in September of last year.