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Portion Control for our Trash

July 17, 2011

Dartmouth College replaced desk trash cans about a year ago for their staff and faculty. The new bins were much smaller, at only six inches tall. If the small trash bins are full, each staff member / faculty / administrator has to take his or her trash can and empty it in a designated disposal area. Every desk also has a larger recycling box which is for paper, alumninum, plastic and glass.

A year later, the results of this simple change are in — Dartmouth sent 200 less tons of trash to the landfill and is recycling 1/3 more than they were a year ago. So cool!

Rosi Kerr, the director of sustainability at Dartmouth says that this change prompts people to have a “relationship” with their trash. She says that nearly everything (minus some packaging materials and plastic bags) is recyclable which forces people to really think about what they are sending to the landfill.

One of the most interesting results is the change in behavior — many offices now have an added component of competition: who can go the longest without having to empty their trash can.

photo credit: Grist

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