Hope Gattis, a sophomore environmental science major, works with other volunteers to sort the contents of trahsbags to raise awareness about what is recylable & compostable in the Pit on Monday Aril 8, 2019.
Students dressed in hazmat suits and gloves sorted trash in the Pit on Monday from a pile of black bags, all collected from Davis Library.
This “trash pit” event was organized by environmentally focused campus groups to encourage students to reduce, reuse and recycle, as well as to compost.
First-year Julia Short, a member of Student Environmental Action Coalition, volunteered at the event.
“All the black bags, it’s trash that was collected from a single day in Davis,” Short said. “And we’re just using the different piles to show things that could’ve been recycled instead of being thrown away, things that could’ve been composted instead of being thrown away, things that are just truly trash that will end up in a landfill and then some waste that should have never been created in the first place. So, things that there are reusable alternatives for.”
SEAC was one of several campus groups united by the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative and the Environmental Affairs Committee of Undergraduate Student Government. The two organizations partnered to host the event in recognition of Earth Day coming up later in April.
“The goal was sort of to do something a little different than what we usually do for Earth Day to raise awareness and start a conversation,” said junior Megan Raisle, co-chairperson of the Environmental Affairs Committee.
Sophomore Cody Allen, also a member of SEAC, said the trash pit caused confusion for students who walked past it.
“People are definitely confused or they’re a little annoyed,” Allen said. “They’re like, ‘Why is there trash in my Pit?’ but once you start to explain, they’re like, ‘Oh, that makes a lot of sense.’ And I don’t know if it’s actually going to make people more aware, but when you actually see how much waste you’re generating as a college campus versus a theoretical, it’s a little bit different.”
The visibility of the trash pit to passersby was intentional.
“Hey, if your trash was going here, you wouldn’t like it, so why are we sending it somewhere else?” said Ayashe Ramey, the events intern at Three Zeros. “And that it’s not just like this invisible thing.”
Brooke Bauman, co-chairperson of SEAC and a former Daily Tar Heel writer, spoke with prospective students who were on campus touring about the purpose of the trash pit.
“I think it was really cool for the tour guide, especially, to come by because he mentioned that Davis Library is kind of like a place where all students have been at one point or another,” Bauman said. “And they can really connect the visual of seeing the trash bags from Davis Library to their own habits.”
The organizers of the trash pit hope that the UNC community will take the time to practice sustainability on campus.
“I hope they pay attention, and they walk the extra 30 seconds into Lenoir to compost things because it’s not that hard, and also there’s recycling in most buildings,” Allen said.
On Earth Day, April 22, the Environmental Affairs Committee will host a panel titled, “Race, Waste and Place: A Discussion on Waste and Environmental Justice in North Carolina” in the Sonja Hayes Stone Center.