Dash for the Trash

Dash for the Trash, an event to help the community make sustainable choices

Menlo College Writing Center & Intensive English Program Director Erik Bakke, planned Dash for the Trash, an event to help the community make sustainable choices. Student organizer Conner Todd ’16 and Assistant Athletic Director Jackie Greulich helped set up the race across the Quad. Contestants had to run with items taken from campus wastebaskets and toss them into one of the three receptacles of the “trash” bins–recycle, compost, or landfill.

Expert volunteers Devin Gaines ’16 and Director of Oral Communication Programs Dr. Marianne Neuwirth supervised contenders on their correct choice of disposal. After competitors disposed items in the correct receptacle, they raced to the finish line where prizes (repurposed not purchased) were given out to the winners, and second chances were encouraged. About twenty-five students competed.

“The decision on disposal method is confusing if you’re trying to be sustainably conscious,” said Gaines, who is Captain of the environmental group Net Impact Menlo College.

Conner Todd added, “Did you know that disposable razor blades go in the recycle bin when you’re ready to trash them? The compost bin is the place to dispose of greasy pizza boxes and paper coffee cups, while the landfill bin is the place to toss packing peanuts, bubble wrap, pens and pencils. Student volunteers and I are here to help with the decision making process.”

Bakke, a member of the Sustainability Task Force said, “This group of volunteers, dubbed Gang Green, grew out of the work led by Director of Student Success Andrea Peeters in collaboration with the Sustainability Task Force. “The active involvement of Menlo students, faculty, and staff across the campus is key to decreasing the amount of waste Menlo College puts into landfill.”

More than six million tons of food products are dumped in California every year. Food is the largest single source of waste in California, making up 15.5 percent of the waste stream.

Recology, San Mateo County’s Waste Zero program reports “waste decomposes and creates methane gas, which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is directly attributed to climate change. Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic waste into a new soil amendment rich in nutrients that can be used for organic farming, vineyards and highway erosion and control projects.”