WKU Students Sift Through Trash For "Earth Day"

By Ryan Dearbone | 

More than 200 million tons of trash is thrown away each and every year.

Those numbers on a college campus can also be extremely high.

So as people celebrate "Earth Day", a handful of students got knee-deep in trash to prove a point.

Those students are learning a new lesson called "Garbology".

"Its gross, but its important to see how much is actually recyclable at the university that's thrown away," says Kim Wilson as she trolls through a bag of trash.

They are scavenging through dumpsters of trash, looking for items students and faculty just pitch away.

"Many times it may be due to a lack of knowledge or ignorance that a product can be recycled, but a lot of times, its for a lack of better terms, people are too lazy to go to a recycling bin," says WKU Graduate Assistant Dan Wilson, head of the project.

But what items are being thrown away the most?

"Plastic bottles, a lot of plastic bottles. Paper, seems we've already run a couple of bins full of paper," replies Wilson.

"I'm actually shocked too. If you look around, everything is plastic," Kim agrees.

This one-day experiment is a small sampling of the garbage thrown away daily.

Even though students only sifted through 3 large dumpsters of waste... everyone on campus is responsible for it.

"If you set foot on this campus, if you eat on this campus, if you exercised here, if you've laid your head down to sleep here. Even if you've signed up for classes here on this campus, you've had an impact on the amount of trash in these 3 dumpsters," explains Dan Wilson.

Students seemed to get the message as they walked by and saw the mounds of trash.

"When I came up the stairs, I thought for a minute, "Wow, that's a lot of trash!" says WKU freshman, Brittany Jones.

"Its a shame that this can't be done everyday for our garbage, but its a taste of what will come out, whats recyclable and whats really trash," notes Wilson.

To show how much recyclable goods were found, Wilson said once all the trash had been sorted, the amount of "real" trash, the stuff that's un-recyclable, only one dumpsters would likely be needed to hold it.

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