Monday, April 28, 2014

4th Saturday

Narrative: Half-eaten fruit

People get bored with their food.

At which bite do we decide to stop munching? Maybe when we can't see the trees where our apples grew. As we pick them from paper bags they become less like growth and more like waste, unlike the biblical entities they are.

The same applies to the carrots in our infamous brown bags : the level of excitement they generate lies in between a refilled paper towel dispenser and an emptied bathroom compost bin. We feel like one bite, maybe two is enough of a moral action to dismiss of our garden friends like the good servants they were to our uneventful meal. In some cases they remain intact as anonymous members of our boundless landfills. I fish these out gladly : being off board, a free apple makes for a happy Henri.

Yet as I place them in my paper bag - an investment that bares fruit on a weekly basis - I feel like the tree that birthed them was so close to squandering its sap, the hands that picked almost fed no one and the bacteria in our stomachs almost went hungry. The evil scheming bacteria are the lucky ones, showered by the luxury of potato chips and cookies while the innocent, fruit-and-veggie-craving-lambs of our gut go hungry.

As we dig through the trash we regularly find that the garden foods our system fell in love with long ago have become little more than an awkward third wheel to our lunch bags.

It's not just the fruit that gets ignored...

I now wear these pants with pride:

Resources recovered: three pairs of pants, and an umbrella


4th Sunday

Saturday crew found three pairs of pants this weekend, and we found the fourth. That's a lot of pants.

Everything in this landfill receptacle is either recyclable (bottles and cans) or compostable (pizza box)

This bin is consistently filled with coffee cups.
  • Coffee cups are compostable, 
  • Coffee cup lids are recyclable
  • Pants are best worn on someone who needs them, not in the trash. Don't send them to the landfill

Monday, April 21, 2014

3rd Sunday

3rd Sunday

I always believe that to be the best, you have to smell like the best, dress like the best, act like the best. When you throw your trash in the garbage can, it has to be better than anybody else who ever threw trash in the garbage can.
-Lil Wayne


Observations: This third Sunday, we did more than take out the overflowing trash from the previous nights parties, we saved lives (possibly). Observe. In the trash: a fractured mirror and a paper plate. The plate was harmless enough, although paper cuts can be intense, but in the incorrect receptacle. The mirror, on the other hand, was the worst safety hazard I have yet seen in my extensive seven months of trashing. Had not the Sunday team carefully removed the razor sharp fragments, who knows what harm may have befallen the unsuspecting student. Luckily, we are highly trained at removing waste from bins, and crisis was averted. 

Interpretation: Awestruck by his/her own magnificent appearance, a student drifted closer to the mirror to better examine his/her countenance. Too close. The mirror shattered, leaving the student with only a spider-web view. This was not good enough for the student who needed to see his/her face in its full glory. The old mirror was discarded and the student bought a bigger one. Also, someone now has seven years bad luck.     

  • Paper towels make up a large portion of compostable waste thrown in the wrong receptacle. Throw away paper towels while still in the bath room!
  • Ray Bradbury said, "ours is a culture and a time immensely rich in trash as it is in treasures." Sometimes, however, the treasures are in the trash. Sometimes, the trash is the treasure.  

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    3rd Saturday


    6th Watson

    Observation: Four sack lunches concentrated in the same receptacle

    Resources Recovered:

     from L to R: fruit, six eggs, full package of raw bacon, large tupperware container, nice box, peanut butter, coookies

    Today was a big day for Gino, Beau, Henri and Jackson. Audrey, John, and Sarah, Raul and Oscar are lagging behind. Dig deeper guys.

    The most delicious recovery today was the full package of bacon from Watson. That sucker was buried deep, but totally untainted. After the shift was through Henri and Jackson fried up the bacon and eggs for a little post-trash brunch.


    Today I noticed there were interesting comments written on the Student Waste Stats poster that was presented to 3rd Nourse last term. The poster publicized data from Fall term.

    My impression is that the students of the floor were skeptical about the data and generally confused about how to interpret the data and react to the information that was being presented to them. One comment said "cite your sources." This person probably doesnt realize that the data was collected on site, by the waste monitors. An example of a negative comment is "please remember to throw this in trash when done." Whoever wrote this is misinterpreting the purpose of this project. We are not concerned with encouraging people to throw things away; we are concerned with directing waste to the correct receptacles.

    There was an accompanying flyer taped up next to the larger poster that had the Waste Monitors logo on it as well as the slogan "we are watching." This had many comments on it as well, the most compelling of which said "This is an invasion of our privacy." This is an interesting argument. Fundamentally, I believe that people should not feel as though their garbage is something to hide. If people do feel this way it is indicative of insecurity. Our garbage reflects who we are as people--what you throw away says as much about you as what you choose to keep.

    I want to reassure the person who wrote this comment that we are not interested in the garbage for the reason they fear we are. We keep garbage under surveillance not because we are interested in individual items, but because we are interested in the bulk composition. We are only interested in individual items if they have some bearing on bulk composition (i.e coffee cups, sack lunches). We will never use what we find in the garbage to incriminate you. Rather, we will use information about bulk composition to encourage people to adopt responsible waste disposal practices. For the record, if you throw your sensitive something where it actually belongs--which is often the recycling, compost, or some combination of the two--then it wont attract our attention in the least.

    This person has a legitimate concern and I am glad that they raised it.

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    2nd Sunday


    3rd James

     This is raw chicken. It was not rotten. Meat represents an enormous amount of energy and resources. It also represents a life. It is sad to see meat in the garbage.

    Location: 2nd Memo
    Observations: A box of sushi, a tin of Mexican food, and a lot of coffee cups and bottles covered in a mysterious sauce.
    Interpretation: People eat food.

    Location: 1st Nourse  
    Observations: Chocolate, sanitary napkins, tissues, miso soup, orange peels, granola bars.
    Interpretation: Some dude got punched in the face and his nose started bleeding badly. His friends tried to cheer him up with food.

     Resources Recovered

    • Fully functional blender (2nd Myers) (Jackson)
    • Several ham sandwiches (Multiple locations) (Jackson)
    • 18 solo cups (3rd Nourse) (Jackson)
    • Highlighters (3rd Myers) (Jackson


    In Cassat, there were several instances of compostable boxes being thrown in the incorrect bins. Second had about eighteen Sayles boxes in the landfill bin, and third had a bunch of Dominos boxes in the recycling bin. Thanks for trying, but Dominos boxes are compostable!

    2nd Saturday


    Ocean of Coffee on 3rd Goodhue
    Location: 3rd Goodhue

    Observations: This can had at least 3 different kinds of coffee products floating in about six inches of coffee.
    Interpretation:The floor held a coffee-tasting event.

    3rd Goodhue

    Location: 3rd Goodhue

    Observations: A box for a high end coffeemaker, with all styrofoam and plastic packaging inside.
    Interpretation: The coffee-gressive.

    5th Watson
    Location: 5th Watson
    Observations: A pristine pair of knock-off Ugg boots, dumped in the original box and wrapping outside the Watson elevator.
    Interpretation: This student got so sick of never-ending winter that they threw out their boots in protest. Alternative interpretation; a spider laid a nest in these boots over spring break, and the student threw them out in horror.

    Resources Recovered:

    • One pair of knock-off Ugg boots, women's size 8. Near mint condition (5th Watson, Audrey).
    • One pair of athletic sneakers, women's size 8. Good condition (2nd Nourse, Audrey).
    • One pack of 12 ct. weight-loss pills, unopened (2nd Memo, Jackson).

    Comments for the Day:

    In bins across buildings and floors, there were a lot of left-overs from parties that were improperly disposed of. So, we recorded a lot of Solo cups, glass and plastic bottles, and aluminum cans, often next to empty recycling bins. Apparently appropriate disposal habits aren't ingrained enough to still be remembered when drunk.

    Per usual, Goodhue bins were all contaminated with a mix of pizza boxes, Sayles boxes, and coffee cups. Goodhue might be far away from campus and hard to get food from, but how hard is it to compost this stuff once you're there?

    1st Saturday

    The Narrative

    3rd Davis
    Location: 3rd Davis
    Observations: (from left to right) a compostable liner filled with Gatorade bottles, an unidentifiable electronic device, a cell phone charger, a broken glass pipe, a bag of popcorn, and a sheet paper with an itemized budget (with $200 was allotted towards fast food, and $700 towards gas.)
    Interpretation: A spring break road trip
    1st Davis
    Location: 1st Davis
    Observations: A melange of carboard, aluminum, paper towels, plastic forks, and bones, all drenched with BBQ sauce.
    Interpretation: Communal feast over football

    Location: 2nd Nourse
    Observations: A pair of Carleton buttons, one for a "Parent," on for an "Alum."
    Interpretation: A student had a falling out with his or her parent.

    Resources Recovered

    • Carton of eggs with 8 eggs in it (Ground Cassat) (Henri)
    • Bag of art supplies—includes conte crayons, watercolors, and brushes (on 2nd Hill. ) (Jackson)


    Multiple times we observed places where the garbage was filled with cardboard, despite there being a recycling receptacle in the IMMEDIATE vicinity. This has to do with the size of the receptacles. How inviting is each receptacle to someone with a large box? The blue bins are narrow, and even though there are two of them at the station, neither one is individually big enough to accommodate a big box. The solution is to fit the large box in the single largest receptacle, which is always the 40 gallon trash bucket. 

    This is indicative of a problem either with the allotment of space towards different receptacles, or more likely, a problem with people who don’t take several seconds to break down their box.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Images from Spring and Fall 2013

    The homogenous mixture of recyclable and compostable items that are found contaminating garbage bins.

    This is a practice that RAs employ to threaten residents who won't clean their dishes. "If you don't clean them, they get thrown away." It makes sense to redirect this cookware towards other people on campus who could use it (i.e. interest houses)

    Incorrect placement of aluminum in the garbage, despite the immediately proximal recycling bin. This type of decision needs to be addressed on campus.

    Useful items found in the garbage

    These burgers were found raw, still in their packaging, in the recycling receptacle on top of Hill of Three Oaks. Obviously they were left unconsumed after a BBQ event. (Jackson is now cooking them on the grill for his own consumption). There should be avenues for students to donate food to other people who can eat it. At the very least, this food should be disposed of in the compost bin.

    Practically a full take-out meal. All of these things were found in the garbage. This is an example of a suite of items that require multiple-steps for proper disposal. Firstly, the food and paper packaging should be dumped out into the yellow (compost) bin. Then the recyclable plastics should be put in recycling. Finally, the styrofoam box belongs in the landfill receptacle.