UW Combined Fund Drive

October 26, 2021

Do your Part on America Recycles Day

Celebrated every year on November 15th, America Recycles Day is dedicated to educating and encouraging Americans to properly reduce, reuse and recycle. The first America Recycles Day occurred in 1997 and continues this year, on the 25th anniversary of its inauguration, with teachings on mindful consumption.

When we recycle, we help reduce landfill waste and conserve natural resources like our oceans and forests. Recycling can also help lessen the burning of fossil fuels, decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Recycling is essential to protecting our oceans. More than 80% of the plastic debris found in our oceans comes from land. This debris can prevent algae and plankton from receiving enough sunlight to photosynthesize. Without these creatures, marine and freshwater food webs would crash, and we would lose the source for half of the oxygen we breathe. Turtles and seals are often found wrapped up in discarded fishing nets and many marine species see plastic as food.

Recycling also protects our forests. Having adequate recycling and compost bins in our parks decreases the amount of litter that could otherwise harm wildlife. Paper can be recycled and reused many times, which can take pressure off forests to provide virgin resources.

Last month, UW Recycling released their first Zero Waste Assessment identifying UW-wide gaps in waste infrastructure. This report also provides potential long-term zero waste solutions. The entire UW campus has a baseline zero waste score of 56.6%.

For college campuses, zero waste is commonly defined as the diversion of at least 90% of materials from landfill and incineration.

Everyone at UW can help increase this score by reducing, reusing, and then, recycling properly. Here are three zero waste initiatives currently implemented on UW campus:

  • UW Housing & Food Services (HFS), UW Medical Center, UW Recycling, and Grounds Management collect coffee grounds from dining facilities across campus and incorporate them into a compost pile for use at the UW Farm and on campus grounds.
  • UW Recreation participates in a buyback program with their vendors to divert gym equipment waste from the landfill. They give other small equipment with limited life spans to the Boys & Girls Club in Seattle.
  • UW SEED leads the pilot program called OZZI, a reusable container vending machine. HFS and SEED plan to expand this system to other dining facilities in the future.

America Recycles Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves what can be done every day to reduce waste. It all starts with having fewer things: before you shop, think about whether you really need that item. If you do need the item, can you determine if it’s eco-friendly, has passed standards for energy savings, and is something that is built to last? America Recycle Day reminds us to be conscious consumers as well as educated recyclers.

Get Involved

Donate 

Consider making a one-time contribution or setting up payroll deduction to one of our CFD member organizations working to reduce the impact of plastics and other waste on our environment:

  • Help Zero Waste Washington (charity code 0315047) make trash obsolete
  • Prevent ocean plastics with OCTO (charity code 0487450) and their MarineDebris.Info program
  • Reduce the impact of plastic in marine environments with the Surfrider Foundation (charity code 03159039)
  • Cleanup and create greenspace in our backyard with Seattle Parks Foundation (charity code 0315031)
  • Reduce waste with the National Park Foundation’s (charity code 0329915) Zero Landfill Initiative
  • Support UW Sustainability’s efforts through the UW Campus Sustainability Fund (charity code 1482577)

Contributed by UWCFD campaign assistant Annabel Weyhrich