When it comes to waste, mindful practices and a collaborative spirit define the scene at Oxy.
Since no waste is the ultimate ideal, reduce and recycle practices are at the forefront of Oxy’s waste strategy. When you do need to throw something away, recycling and composting are excellent options available on our campus.
Below are highlights of key reduction strategies. Campus Dining has implemented even more as part of their operations.
Need to grab a meal, but no time to enjoy it leisurely? Do take-out at the Marketplace and Tiger Cooler, and do it green. Eco-clamshells are reusable take-out containers that also save you money: get a 25 cent discount per use.
BYOM & For-Here Mugs
Take your mug (or bottle) to the Marketplace, Cooler and the Green Bean to fill up on drinks. This is another eco-action that has a financial perk: use a disposable cup and save 15 cents (or 20 cents at the Green Bean).
BYOM has also spread to events. Since 2017, the Administrator Staff Council hosts its Coffee Breaks with BYOM as a matter of course.
Water Bottle Refill Stations
Carrying around a reusable water bottle at Oxy is handy. Water bottle filling stations are located in a majority of residence halls, Johnson Student Center, the Academic Commons, Johnson Hall, Rush Gym, and several other academic and administrative buildings. Each year another station is installed thanks to the efforts of the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund (RESF) and Facilities Management.
Extending the life of a variety of items is central to Oxy Ecossentials’ mission. At the end of each semester, especially during spring Move Out, the student club collects gently used items from each residence hall. In the fall, they resell these items back to the Oxy community at very low prices and donate the leftover items.
The group also collects excess office equipment. Staff members are invited contact them or the Sustainability Coordinator to schedule a pickup of extra binders, trays and other office items no longer needed.
Excess Food Recovery Team (EFRT)
The curiosity of Mel Devoney ‘17 about where leftover food on Oxy’s campus ended up led to a food donation initiative. Last year, it matured into an institutionalized program adopted by Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement. With the collaboration of paid student coordinators and Campus Dining staff, EFRT donated a total of 3,580 pounds of food to local community partners in the 2017-18 school year.
The dos and don’ts of recycling differ depending on location. Because the Oxy community comes from all across the U.S. and the world, education on campus and L.A. recycling guidelines is fundamental.
All blue bins across campus are single-stream and can accept the following items:
Paper: white or colored paper, magazines, newspaper, construction paper, card stock
Cartons: milk, juice, and soy milk cartons; anything labeled Tetrapak
Cardboard: Oxy recycles this item separately. Flatten the cardboard and leave it next to a blue bin for pick up.
Glass: bottles and jars (please leave caps on)
Metals: aluminum, steel and tin (cans, foil, paperclips, small metal pieces)
Be aware of the don’ts for recycling:
Don’t throw any food into the blue bin. Food contamination can result in entire loads of recycling being sent to landfill. If you have a plastic take-out container, dump the food in the trash first, then rinse and recycle the container.
Don’t throw Green Bean cups into the blue bin. Compostable items break down to provide nutrients to the soil, so these items can’t be recycled into another product.
Don’t throw chip bags into the blue bin. These bags, along with those for candy wrappers and trail mix bars, are made out of two materials melded together (usually aluminum and plastic), and cannot be separated and sent on their respective recycling paths.
This recycling poster summarizes a majority of these do’s and don’ts:
The cash register of the Bookstore is the place to recycle your batteries. Remember, batteries contain toxic elements, so they need to be recycled separately.
The cash register of the Bookstore is also the place to recycle your empty printer cartridges.
Electronic waste (E-waste)
Battered and/or broken-down mice, screens, printers and other small electronic equipment can be dropped off at the IT Help Desk on the main floor of the Academic Commons. Informational Technology Services (ITS) partners with Environmental Health and Safety to collect e-waste as they continuously upgrade the college’s technologies.
Also, campus-wide e-waste collections take place at the end of each semester. This is a great opportunity to get rid of any old or broken printers, scanners, keyboards, VHS tapes, connectors/cables and other miscellaneous e-waste that has been sitting around.
Cooking & Food
Campus Dining contracts with FiltaFry to reduce the amount of frying oil used via filtration. Once the oil becomes unusable, FiltaFry recycles the fryer waste oil into biodiesel. At the Marketplace, excess produce and cooked proteins are repurposed as ingredients in the daily Soup and Pasta of the Day selections.
Thanks to a progressive green spirit, Campus Dining adopted composting into its operations in 2011 when our waste hauler first made it possible. The Marketplace composts the peelings and trimmings from food prep. The food waste and compostable items placed on the food tray collector are also sorted by staff behind-the-scenes into compost bins. These impactful actions divert up to 10,000 pounds of organics every 10 days during the school year. In the nationwide RecycleMania 2017 competition, Oxy’s organics diversion ranked 12th among 134 colleges.
Oxy practices industrial composting, meaning a wide range of organics and plant items can be composted on campus. Campus Dining has transitioned to exclusively offering disposable utensils, straws and cups. The following is a mini-compost guide:
Food: veggies, fruits, meat, dairy, bread, baked goods
Soiled paper: napkins, pizza boxes, paper plates
Cups: Green Bean, Marketplace and the Cooler cups are all compostable
Plantware/#7 PLA: Oxy’s disposable utensils are compostable. Any items with “7 PLA” displayed in a recycling symbol are made of plant material and can be composted (for example, the Cooler’s salad containers).
This poster summarizes these composting basics:
Composting began to expand beyond the Marketplace in 2016 through the efforts of the Green Bean, the Public Health club and the Office of Sustainability. As green bins (the color code for compost) started appearing in other campus locales, students became inspired and energized to bring composting to more areas.
Liz Richman ‘19 headed up the Cooler Compost project, and Stella Ramos ‘21 began BraunPost and empowered other students to replicate her success in other halls through a ResEd Compost Working Group. FEAST is ramping up its closed-loop composting efforts by collecting the Marketplace’s food waste, the Green Bean’s coffee grounds and backyard compost bins adjacent to two residence halls [find out specific halls].
Compost champions are making the practice available across campus. Even the Financial Aid Office has a compost bin initiated and maintained by its assistant director, Emily Valk.
Check out this map to see where you can compost at Oxy:
For ease of reference, here is the current list of locations:
- Braun Post (1 bin per hall)
- Marketplace @ the conveyor belt
- The Cooler near east entrance
- The Green Bean
- Johnson Student Center 1st floor
- Johnson Hall 1st floor
- Academic Commons
- 2nd floor near printer
- 2nd floor near reading room
- 3 floor near restrooms
- FEAST (ONLY backyard composting)
Large compost bins are available for big events hosted on lower campus. Currently, composting happens at OxyEngage Welcome and Closing Dinners, Harvest Fair, Explore Oxy Breakfast and Lunch, Staff Appreciation Luncheon, Spring Fest and Earth Day Quad Fair.
Smaller events hosted by clubs can also set up composting. RESF helps to finance the higher price of compostable serviceware. Smaller event composting is not limited to lower campus. For more information, reach out to Sustainability Coordinator Jenny Low.