Press "Enter" to skip to content

Zero Waste Challenge

Michelle Ma

New recycling bins and an ice cream-flavored incentive are the two latest efforts the Recycling Club is using to encourage students to reduce the trash produced on campus.

The club, in its second competition of the year, started a Zero Waste Challenge right after Spring Break. If students are able to cut their waste by half, the club will throw an ice cream party for the school on May 3.

“Everybody likes ice cream,” Heidi Obermeit, Recycling Coordinator said. “It is a zero waste food because we will be serving it in cones.”

According to the posters for the Zero Waste Challenge, Mills dorms produce four dumpsters full of waste each week. The goal for the challenge is to cut that amount down to two dumpsters a week.

“Our goal eventually is to get Mills down to zero waste,” said freshwoman Jennifer Liu, president of the Recycling Club.

Because she thinks it is unlikely that all students will stop producing trash at one time, Liu said that this contest is designed to force students to think about how much recyclable or compostable trash they throw away.

The Zero Waste Challenge provides students with personal recycling bins with smaller trash containers attached to them. The bins cost roughly $3 and were purchased in bulk with funds from the Campus Facilities Department.

Liu said that having a recycling bin right in their room will encourage students to recycle more and throw away less.

Students can pick up a recycling bin from Heidi Obermeit, the Mills Recycling Coordinator, or the student recycling coordinators that live in each dorm.

One reason the Zero Waste Challenge began was to save Mills money. Obermeit explained that the garbage collectors charge a “tipping fee” for dumping trash. The fee totals over $1,000 per dumpster.

The trash is collected by Waste Management, while recycling is collected by California Waste Solutions.

“[The challenge] will definitely save Mills thousands of dollars,” Obermeit said.

Many students have their new bins and are recycling.

Freshwoman Corelle Nakamura got her new recycling bin over a week ago.

“I got it so that I can help the environment,” Nakamura said with a smile. “And because I want ice cream!”

Nakamura also said that the bin will help her sort out her trash easiler. She recycles using the bin in her dorm’s trash room, but she has to sort out recyclables from trash when she takes out her garbage.

“There’s nasty stuff in there and then it’s on your hands,” she said. “This is easier.”

The Recycling Club also unveiled new recycling bins in Caf‚ Suzie’s and the Tea Shop. The bins have separate slots for recyclable items, trash and compostable materials, as well as pictures detailing what go in each slot.

The Zero Waste Challenge will continue until April 30.

According to Obermeit, the challenge reduced the amount of waste at Mills to two and a half dumpsters by the end of the second week.