College students produce enormous amounts of waste. That is just a fact of life: college buildings do not have good enough waste management systems to deal with the pressures put on them by large numbers of young people living in a single building together, and this causes all sorts of issues as a result.
Most of the time, college buildings struggle to deal with the amount of waste and recycling generated by students in daily life. At moving out time, however, that gets much, much worse. College students are generally keen to get out as fast as possible, and even the most responsible student will get annoyed by small trash containers, large crowds, and the various general frustrations that can arise as a result. That means that a college building at moving out time can be drowned in piles of errant waste. From abandoned recyclables to packaging materials to perfectly good items that have just been thrown out rather than having to deal with transporting them. So what can we do about this problem? Well, first, we need to understand the causes behind it.
The College Problem
Every college building is on the verge of falling apart. Anyone who has ever lived in one will have stories of crumbling infrastructure, absurd cost-cutting measures, and facilities that just do not work. This also applies to the waste management systems: college buildings have just enough trash capacity, just enough recycling facilities, and just enough collections to fit their average needs with no excess. This is probably mostly an attempt at keeping costs down, but it means that as soon as waste production fluctuates at all, things start to go horribly wrong.
The biggest problem is always moving out day. At that point, every student in the building is simultaneously trying to pack up all of their possessions and realizing that they will not all fit in their bags or vehicles. This leads to desperately trying to dispose of things before parents arrive to collect them, which means that bad decisions are made in the name of expediency. The waste management system gets overloaded by the amount of waste being generated, and things start to pile up all over the building. That is a problem, and it is one that affects even the most conscientious and environmentally responsible student.
Traditionally, college students use bulletin boards and sites like craigslist to try to buy, sell, trade, or just give away old used items. This can be very effective, but towards moving out day, all of these avenues are filled with people desperately trying to get rid of things at the same time, and more people are selling than are buying, so it just does not work well enough to deal with the amount of waste being generated.
There is another problem with that solution, though, and that is personal safety. Meeting up with strangers to buy, sell, trade, or give away items can be a significant safety concern, particularly for younger female students. Understandably, many students are increasingly wary of this approach to waste management and would prefer to do something that does not come with the risk of meeting up with a stranger to hand items over.
New Ways to Manage Waste in College
One of the hottest new ways to deal with the waste created by college students is the website CampusWall. This website was created by Tina Snyder, mother to two college students, and has been designed to help students safely and securely get rid of their unwanted items with the minimum environmental impact possible.
CampusWall works a lot like sites such as Craigslist, allowing users to buy and sell items easily, but with one crucial difference: it is entirely limited to students, and transactions can only be made between registered members of the same university. This cuts down on the risk of making transactions significantly, allowing students to make deals to get rid of their unwanted items without having to worry about their own safety.
As a safety-first site, CampusWall is supported by a number of different colleges and fully endorsed and approved by various school officials and student programs. Anyone who wants to sign up is required to have a university email address, meaning that there is no potential for outside individuals to abuse the system in any way. The site is designed with safety as a top priority, but also to make it easy for students to deal with their unwanted items without simply throwing them out.
While hiring a dumpster to dispose of your items is a great way to deal with things that are not reusable or recyclable, many of the things commonly thrown out by students are entirely reusable or recyclable. Which means sites like CampusWall can be very effective for reducing the amount of such waste that makes it into landfill, giving a new lease of life to items that the current owners do not want to take home with them.
College students create a huge amount of waste, but it does not have to be that way. As more universities catch on to ideas such as CampusWall, it should be possible to increase the amount of waste that is recycled and reused every year. Sustainability and safety are vital concerns and seeing more universities move towards them as major priorities is enough to give us a bit of hope for the future. Waste management is a complex world, but we can all do our part to help responsibly take care of the waste we generate.