Oct. 22, 2009

Dumpster diving, for a good cause

by Diana Pounds

Volunteers will do some serious dumpster diving, minus the actual dives, in the Iowa State Center parking lot on Oct. 29. At least six dumpsters full of campus garbage will be overturned in lot D1, south of Hilton Coliseum.

The volunteers, outfitted with garbage grabbers, rakes, shovels and gloves, will surround the piles, and start sorting. By day's end, organizers of the event hope to have a pretty good idea of what's being tossed in campus dumpsters and what part of the trash might be reclaimed through expanded recycling opportunities.

The massive garbage sort is the culmination of an independent study of university recycling programs by ISU psychology major Kevin Marquardt. Joining the effort in lot D1 will be director of sustainability Merry Rankin as well as staff from ISU's facilities planning and management and environmental health and safety units and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The dumpsters were carefully selected to provide a good overview of the different kinds of spaces on a campus -- from classrooms to cafés -- and the kinds of trash they produce, Rankin said.

"As we do the sort, we'll look for items that already can be recycled on campus, such as newspaper, white paper and cardboard," Rankin said. "More importantly, we'll look for areas to expand recycling efforts. For example, if the trash includes a lot of plastic beverage and food containers, we can note these items as potential recyclable items for an expanded recycling program."

Volunteers needed

Rankin said volunteers from the Iowa State and Ames community are welcome to show up at the site anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Youth should be 15 years old or older. Volunteers are advised to wear old clothes and close-toed shoes, and preferably, leather gloves. Gloves and protective outerwear will be provided.

Volunteers are encouraged to preregister by contacting Rankin, mrankin@iastate.edu, or Marquardt, kevmarq@iastate.edu.

Rain date

In the event of heavy rain, the event will be moved to Friday, Oct. 30.