On November 15th, The Office of Sustainability hosted its America Recycles Day event. America Recycles Day is a national initiative by the Keep America Beautiful organization focused around encouraging and inspiring people all over the nation to recycle effectively and help preserve the environment. The event was held at Georgia College in conjunction with Ethics Awareness Week, where students and faculty were encouraged to bring outdated important documents to shred. Not only did this encourage participants to practice safe handling of their information, but the shredded paper was also used to facilitate the development of food waste into compost here at Georgia College. To conclude the event, Office of Sustainability intern Ashlie Adamson offered a talk on a myriad of products designed to enable zero-waste living and the difference that zero-waste living can make in our community.
One of the largest sustainability initiatives at Georgia College is the recycling program. Representatives of the Office of Sustainability served to educate students and faculty about what can and cannot be recycled on the campus. Recyclable items include paper, cardboard, and aluminum and steel cans, as well as plastics #1 and #2. Additionally, the event served to inform the campus about the benefits of recycling for the economy and the environment. Georgia has one of the largest markets for recyclable materials in the nation; roughly one-third of all plastic beverage containers that are recycled in North America end up recycled in Georgia, and over 120 business in Georgia use recycled materials to manufacture new goods, according to the Georgia Recycling Coalition. Novelis, one of the world’s largest aluminum recycling companies, has its headquarters in Atlanta. The event also described the impact of individual people recycling; recycling a single plastic soda bottle will save enough energy to power a T.V. for 1.5 hours, while recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.
In addition, the event informed attendees of the benefits of composting. Composting has the potential to save money by reducing the need for fertilizers and mulch, as well as enriching the soil. The organic matter found in compost increases the soil’s ability to retain water, allowing people the ability to save money on their water bills. Composting also helps stabilize soil in areas prone to erosion, increasing plant growth and soil cover. Furthermore, composting helps reduce the total waste found in landfills. Compostable materials account for more than 30% of all waste thrown away within a year. The decision to compost can greatly increase the lifespan of landfills all throughout the nation and the world. Moreover, there are currently 34 official composting operations recognized in Georgia by the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and commercial composters provide roughly four times as many jobs as landfilling these materials creates, according to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County. Meanwhile, Georgia College is continuing its composting initiative, which takes post-consumer food waste from the MAX and converts it into usable compost. Some of this compost is used for the Community Garden on West Campus.
Georgia College’s America Recycles Day event saw support from the following clubs/organizations: the Environmental Science Club (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Office of Sustainability (email@example.com), the Earth Action Team (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Gardening Club (email@example.com). Through this event, Georgia College hopes to educate students and faculty on the benefits of recycling and composting and to urge us all to participate in these initiatives through the college and in our own lives to help sustain our planet.