POTSDAM Clarkson University students got trashy on the front lawn of the student center Wednesday.
The schools Sustainability Week brought students outside to sort through an entire days worth of garbage in front of the center from noon to 2 p.m.
Susan E. Powers, an environmental engineering professor at Clarkson, said this is the second year theyve held a garbage sorting session to spread awareness about how much trash they produce and how well they do getting solid waste in the right places.
We are trying, especially in the eating facilities, to separate trash that goes to a landfill, recyclables and food waste, she said. Its to learn how well we did.
Ms. Powers is part of Clarksons Institute for a Sustainable Environment, for which she helps coordinate cross-campus sustainability initiatives.
Michael S. Donovan, Albany, is a chemical engineering major in his junior year at Clarkson. He spent part of his Wednesday sorting through the trash.
A lot of people just dont know what is and isnt recyclable, but now theyll have a better chance because everyone walks by here and will see whats happening, he said.
Jonas Z. Ebert, a sophomore biology and psychology major, said that although he doesnt really enjoy sorting through other peoples trash, it needs to be done to show what can be recycled.
Its a mixture of apathy and ignorance, he said. A lot of the coffee cups are recyclable, but people just throw them out because they dont know what to do with it.
Ms. Powers said that some students helping to sort the garbage are from her classes and are working on semester projects that have to do with solid waste.
One group is looking at how many coffee cups we use on campus, she said. Our coffee cups are recyclable, but theyre going to look at how many were in the trash as opposed to recycled.
Another group of Ms. Powerss students were looking into how many paper disposable to go boxes were used.
Ms. Powers said one of the biggest finds last year was all the ice that was thrown away in Pepsi cups.
We pay for our solid waste management by the pound, she said. If that goes in a plastic bag and the plastic bag doesnt break before it goes in a dumpster, we are paying to send water to a landfill.
Ms. Powers said that the college age is a great time for students to set up lifelong habits that support a sustainable lifestyle.
There are academic reasons to learn about this, but theres also reasons to be a person who can live a little lighter on the planet, she said. Its good for us to send our students out as citizens and voters who understand the issues with solid waste or energy.