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Recycling Crew Submissions

Recycling Crew Begins Paper Towel Composting Project

by Virginia Pszczolkowski, guest writer

As some of you may have noticed, there are new labeled “PAPER TOWELS” and “TRASH” bins in each of the Library bathrooms. Change can be scary, but Don’t Panic. These bins are a part of the Recycling Crew’s new paper towel composting pilot project!

Paper towels are completely compostable, but right now almost all of them from our campus get sent to the landfill – and we go through a lot of them here. Composting the campus’s paper towels will drastically reduce the volume of trash we send to the landfill each year. Currently in the bathrooms, everything gets put into a single trash bin: paper towels, latex gloves, candy wrappers, feminine products, and anything else that someone might want to dispose of while in the bathroom (barring what gets flushed down the toilet.)

The vast majority of this trash is paper towels, but the small number of other, non-compostable items that get tossed in with them make composting the paper towels impossible. This contamination is the greatest obstacle in the way of turning our paper towels into sweet, soil-enriching compost.

The new system we’re piloting in the Library is a two-bin system: one large lidded bin for paper towels, and one small bin for all of the trash. This way the paper towels should remain uncontaminated by trash items, allowing us to compost them along with all of the campus’s food waste!

We plan to soon expand the paper towel pilot project to include the bathrooms and showers of Sunderland and Vining. If the pilot expansion is successful, eventually we will have paper towel compost bins in all of the bathrooms on campus.

So, what does this mean for you personally? Are you going to have to do any extra work when you go to toss your wet paper towels after you’ve washed your hands? Nope! Both bins are clearly labeled as either “PAPER TOWELS” or “TRASH,” and all you’ll need to do is put it in the right bin: paper towels in the paper towels bin, and trash in the trash bin.

Of course, if you can dry your hands on your pants or with one of the electric hand dryers, that’s even better. Less waste is best waste!

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