Sustainability Newsletter Spring 2021

Caitlin Reimers, an undergraduate major in sustainability, noticed something odd when she first moved into the dorms at USD. “As a transfer student from SDSU, one of the first things I noticed upon arriving at my dorm room was the lack of a recycling bin, let alone a landfill bin. It really bothered me, to the point that I had put laundry baskets by the bathrooms so that my whole floor could recycle,” Reimers said. Her goal was to bring recycling to all of the residence halls at USD, and to meet that goal, Reimers applied for and received a Green Initiatives Fund grant through the Student Government Association, which allowed her to purchase 1,100 recycling bins. Reimers worked closely with Anna Moore, a graduate student in sustainability and USD’s recycling coordinator. Together, they worked with the housing office, facilities management and the President’s Joint Committee on Sustainability to come up with a workable plan to expand recycling into the residence halls. Moore said, “It was great that everyone involved supported the project. The housing office was especially keen to get it started because residents frequently request recycling.” Their plan brought recycling to North Complex and Brookman Hall in spring 2021, and will expand to all halls by fall 2021. Each room will have their own recycling bin that students will need to empty into a larger single-stream recycling receptacle located in each residence hall. Reimers andMoore emphasized that for recycling tobe successful in the residence halls—and on campus in general—the recycling bins must remain free of contamination. Liquids, food and plastic bags need to go in the trash—not the recycling bins. Moore noted that, “USD students come from across the country and around the globe. Each hometown is part of a specific recycling economy, and coming to USD requires learning a new set of guidelines. Luckily, we can check Millennium Recycling’s website whenever we have questions.” Reimers reflected on her experience. “It was very exciting and inspiring to know that we were completely capable of making residential recycling happen! It made me realize the USD was capable of many more sustainable initiatives.” To that end, Reimers and Moore are working towards reducing the amount of waste the campus produces overall, with the ultimate goal of making the campus more sustainable. Moore emphasized the importance of teamwork in making big changes. “Sharing this project with Caitlin has been rewarding. I’m glad we still have lots to work on together,” Moore said. Both Moore and Reimers pointed out that sustainability is more than just recycling. “Recycling, although very important, is only a small fraction of a sustainable society. It helps take a portion of our reusable waste and divert it away from the landfill to be made into something else. Recycling is a huge first step for USD in our path towards a sustainable campus and I could not be more excited to see how much support students and faculty have towards recycling and sustainability,” Reimers said. Recycling at USD • It’s student-run: Four undergrads of various majors and a graduate coordinator manage collection. • It’s single-stream: Unlike the City of Vermillion’s recycling program, the campus program sends mixed recyclables to Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls. • It’s expanding: 31 out of 40 buildings have access to recycling. • It’s vulnerable to contamination: We need to keep plastic bags, liquid and other contaminants out. Cailtin Reimers (left) and Anna Moore (right) demonstrate what can and can’t be recycled. S ustainability S tudents E xpand R ecycling to R esidence H alls