Hello, and welcome to the Waste Sorting and Reclamation Project! It’s basically a fancy way of saying that we dive into dumpsters, sort trash, and, more often than not, find treasure. We’re on a mission to rescue recyclables, reclaim compostables, and bring new life to salvageable goods once doomed to a dark fate in a landfill!
Our project started innocently. Zoe was taking out the trash and paused to toss some soda cans from the dumpster into the recycling just as I was biking back from class. I stopped at the dumpster to help Zoe bring back our room’s trash tubs, but fifteen minutes later, I was in the dumpster sorting out residential trash. What we found was disheartening— bags full of plastic bottles that had ended up in the dumpster, unopened and perfectly good food, items that could easily be repurposed or donated. Something had to be done, no matter how icky! Every few days, Zoe and I would make a trip down to our residential dumpster and do as much damage control as we could by ripping open trash bags, sorting out recyclables and compostables, and salvaging useable items.
A couple weeks later, Anthony joined us in what ended up being one of our most successful dumpster dive yet. We recovered a fully-functional baby crib (later sold of Craigslist!), several sets of dining hall silverware, children’s toys and hair accessories (donated to a happy mother after being sanitized), artwork, and a Kendall and Kylie brand bodysuit.
Now, we’re taking our initiative campus-wide. If one dumpster has hundreds of recyclable containers to be sorted out each week, we can only imagine how many bottles and cans could be rescued from all of Stanford’s dumpsters! By documenting our findings online, we hope that we can change how Stanford sorts waste. Thanks for joining us on this journey!