Single-stream makes recycling a breeze

If you live on campus at UNI, you've probably noticed a change in the recycling process in the residence halls. UNI has switched to single-stream recycling, a process that makes it possible to recycle a variety of materials, like paper, plastic, cardboard and tin, without having to sort them into separate containers. This change saves students time, but those living on the upper levels of residence halls still have to go down to the first floor to find a recycling container.

Single-stream recycling
Beginning fall 2014, single-stream recycling containers will be placed on every floor in UNI's residence halls.

But not for long. In an effort to promote sustainability, single-stream recycling containers will be placed on every floor in the residence halls, beginning fall 2014. This is the result of the work of 10 students from UNI's Presidential Scholars Sophomore Think Tank classes.

The Sophomore Think Tank classes are made up of recipients of UNI's Presidential Scholarship. In the fall, the students identify and research a problem and come up with a plan to solve it. In the spring, they put that plan into action.

Sophomore biology major Jade Simpson was on the team that helped with the change to single-stream recycling. The team noticed that recycling was underutilized in residence halls because items had to be taken to the first floor. So they contacted a number of "stakeholders," faculty and staff with the knowledge and authority to help the scholars address the issue, and set out to make a change.

Since the Department of Residence (DOR) had already brought single-stream recycling to the residence halls, the scholars wanted to take it one step further by making recycling bins available on every floor of the residence halls. A month-long pilot program was launched in Dancer Hall and Hagemann Hall to see if doing so would be feasible and beneficial.

It was. Recycling increased and students had only positive things to say in a survey sent out after the pilot program. The success of the program is part of what made DOR decide to bring recycling containers to every floor in fall 2014.

For Simpson, being a part of such a big change on campus is empowering. "It's crazy to think that 10 of us are making this change," she said. "Being able to see it happen and make a difference. That's the really cool part."

That was especially true when she heard that UNI made The Princeton Review's list of Green Colleges. "That's, in a small part, us," said Simpson. "We're making small changes to make UNI better than it already is."