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April 22. 2013 8:52PM

Keene State College takes stock with trash audit

KEENE - Keene State College students dug into fellow classmates' trash Monday to hold an Earth Day Trash Audit in front of the Young Student Center. Glass and plastic bottles, unopened containers of yogurt and other food times, aluminum cans, pizza boxes with leftover pizza -- the majority of what the students were finding could have been recycled, reused or composted, the students said.

"That awkward moment when you know whose trash it is because their name is on it," says student and Eco-Reps member Avi Bacchiocchi after opening another trash bag.

The Keene State Eco-Reps along with the ROCKS -- Recycling On Campus At Keene State -- conducted the audit of trash taken from residential halls on campus Monday morning, Earth Day.

Eco-reps member Greg French admits the activity is gross, but is conducted "To show students their impact, especially what they are throwing away. The actual trash is very little."

After the trash is sorted it will be weighed and the results of the trash audit will be displayed on a board on campus.

Most students on Monday walk by without stopping to see what the students are doing.

"I find with the undergraduates, they don't necessarily stop, but they talk about it later in their classes," said Mary Jensen, Keene State College Campus sustainability officer. "Recycling creates jobs. It's less expensive than landfilling. It saves valuable minerals that don't have to be mined. It's easier and cheaper for us to use recycling materials then for use to go get new things. Especially aluminum, aluminum can be recycled endlessly."

The Earth Day Trash Audit is the kickoff of several events this week at the college aimed at getting students involved in sustainability, said Jensen, an ongoing mission at the school since 1996.

Last week, the college was named One of the Country's Greenest Schools again by the Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council as one of 320 "Green Colleges" in the U.S.

The report also includes two schools in Canada. Keene State has been included in this list every year, since the selections began in 2010.

"We've been building on our sustainability efforts over time," Jensen said. "I think we've built on our steps over time and people have recognized their savings value, in money savings and energy savings and water savings."

Some of the college's sustainability accomplishments from 2012 include the installation of solar panels on the new Technology, Design and Safety Center to help achieve LEED Platinum certification and significantly cutting food waste by donating and composting instead of throwing food away.

Last year the college donated 2,100 pounds of food and composted more than 79,000 pounds of food waste.To learn more about earth Day Week events on campus go online to http://www.keene.edu/sustain/earthweekevents.cfm.

mpierce@newstote.com

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