ALLENDALE — A group of Grand Valley State University students dove into a campus dumpster and got their hands dirty to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and composting.

The Student Environmental Coalition organized a dumpster dive, near Fresh Food Co. on the Allendale Campus, on Feb. 20. Students emptied the eight-cubic yard dumpster and sorted the contents into recycle, compost and landfill piles. Watch the video at YouTube or photos at this link.

The outcome was surprising, said SEC Vice President Cassandra Beach.

“We walked away with only two bags of materials that were for the landfill; the rest could have been recycled or composted,” Beach said.

The dumpster dive took place as Grand Valley completes the first full week of Recyclemania, a 10-week, national competition among colleges and universities to collect the largest amount of recyclables and the least amount of trash. There was a two-week trial period before the competition officially began.

Steve Leeser, operations supervisor for Facilities Services, said the dumpster dive shows that even though we recycle and compost a lot, there is room for improvement.

Among Michigan colleges and universities participating in the competition, Grand Valley is currently in first place for composting and second place for waste minimization.

“Compared to our standards, we’re doing better than ever,” Leeser said. “During the first week of the competition in 2010, we recycled 27 percent of our waste stream, and this year we’re at 38 percent.”

Campus Dining restaurants on campus use silverware, plates, cups and straws that can be composted. For a list of compostable and recyclable items, visit the Facilities Services website.

Facilities Services is leading the contest, with support from Grand Valley’s Campus Dining, Office of Housing and Residence Life, Sustainable Community Development Initiative and Pew Campus Operations.

To help promote Recyclemania this year, a group of film and video students created three promotional videos for a final project in a class led by professor Deanna Morse. The videos can be viewed online here.

For more information about Recyclemania, visit


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