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[greenyes] Zero waste college graduation


New York Times - June 4, 2005

All Is Recycled, Except for the Graduates

By Katie Zezima

There will be no Dumpsters for Kate Tompkins to use when she
moves out of her dorm at College of the Atlantic this weekend.
Garbage cans will also be banned from move-out and all graduation
events.

There will be no trash receptacles because, if all goes according to
plan, there will be no trash.

College of the Atlantic, a 270-student liberal arts college in Bar
Harbor, Me., known for its environmental friendliness - it offers
one degree, in human ecology - is trying to hold a waste-free
graduation.

Everything the college is using for the ceremony and the
accompanying events, from cutlery to the kiwi vine rope used to
separate the 55 graduates from their parents, will be recycled or
composted, as will all waste generated by guests and students
moving out. Everything that cannot be recycled will be used in a
sculpture that students and guests will create, using wire to fasten
the pieces, after today's ceremony.

Students are being asked to donate their old clothes to a local
charity and old appliances to the college, which will sell them at a
yard sale in the fall. Students staying in the area this summer will be
the beneficiaries of half-empty bottles of shampoo and ketchup.
Student volunteers clad in recycled organic cotton T-shirts will
answer any recycling questions.

"Our main goal is to reuse the materials as much as possible, and
our other goal is to make people realize the connection between
what you purchase and what you throw away," said Millard Dority,
the college's director of public safety, who conceived the idea after
hearing of a Canadian town that tried to go waste-free. "We'll
certainly recycle your bottle of water, and if you unwrap a
PowerBar and don't finish it, that can be composted. But you're
taking the wrapper home with you."

The college, which has an extensive recycling and composting
program, bought compostable cutlery, plates and cups, all of which
are made from cornstarch, for the weekend's events. The college
also cut down on the amount of food it ordered and asked its
suppliers (many of them small organic outlets) to cut down on
packaging materials.

Students like Ms. Tompkins, 18, a freshman from Willow Grove,
Pa., said they did not mind the extra sorting work.

"Most of the students are really receptive to it," she said. "It's not
that much harder, when you think about it, to take an extra five
minutes and separate your things into bins. It kind of gets everyone
more involved and makes recycling a more central part of campus
life."


/Bill Sheehan
Product Policy Institute



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