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Tips for Start of the School Year Recycling

If you are a college or university, depending on when classes start, you are either already knee deep in student move-in issues or about to be. If you are a new reader, below are some previously-written blog posts to help you navigate some of the recycling and sustainability issues you will encounter as the students return. And if you are a returning reader, hopefully one of these posts will remind you of something that you said you wanted to try this year.


In the residence halls, the biggest issue when students return is cardboard. Whether its stuff for their room that they brought with them from home, or stuff they bought from a local store just after they arrived, most of that stuff comes in cardboard boxes that are discarded after they are unpacked. It’s a LOT of cardboard, enough so that what you do with the cardboard as the students move in can impact your recycling rate for the entire year. To help you navigate that, check out:

Education / Orientation

Student move-in is also one of the most critical times for recycling and sustainability education. Those first few hours, days, and weeks will be the building blocks for what shapes their entire college experience. If you can imprint positive recycling and sustainability behaviors on them right away, those behaviors are likely to carry with them their entire time on campus. If you miss that window and they pick up negative behaviors, you will spend the next 4 years overcoming that negative imprinting.

But reaching students during this critical time means understanding their mindset and perspective and adapting accordingly:

At some point, continued success means reaching out to students who are not already environmentally minded. That may mean changing your own mindset as much as it means changing theirs:

Know Yourself

Just remember that one size does not fit all. Knowing who you are and where you are in the evolution of your program can help you to make the best choices for your program.

Good luck. Hopefully your student move-in is the start of a really great year.

Written by

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Roger Guzowski

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