Incoming freshmen at the University of Georgia receive lessons and training on a few important topics before coming to college, notably alcohol and drug abuse and sexual assault and misconduct. UGA students Mira Bookman, Aditya Krishnaswamy and Raquel Hazzard think that something else should be added to the roster of pre-college educational materials: an online tutorial that teaches students proper recycling techniques.

The trio is using the funds from a Campus Sustainability Grant to design and implement an educational module to increase student awareness of recycling resources. They hope to implement the short module into First Year Odyssey Seminar classes to reach and inform students who are just beginning their college journey.

The ultimate goal of this educational initiative is to reduce the proportion of recyclable materials that end up in the landfill. Last year, UGA sent 5,474 tons of material to the landfill and recycled only 1,200 tons. The EPA estimates that over 75 percent of the U.S. waste stream is actually recyclable.

Similar educational modules have been implemented with success at colleges such as the University of Wisconsin-Stout and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both of which have been guiding examples for the UGA module.

The recycling initiative team will be hiring a couple of computer science interns this summer to help create the module, which they are hoping to start testing this summer to get feedback. The module will include an interactive game to help train people on what is and is not recyclable.

The team said this project fits into the idea of sustainability because it aims to change people’s habits. This project will eliminate the confusion around what is and is not recyclable to hopefully create a more sustainability-minded campus in the future.

Written by Jordan Meaker