Luther College awarded $1,000 grant from Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency

A proposal to support recycling efforts on the Luther College campus written by Callie Mabry and Bekah Schulz has resulted in the college being awarded a $1,000 grant from Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency.

Mabry and Schulz, who graduated from Luther in 2014, researched recycling in Luther's Brandt Hall, a residence hall for first-year students, and wrote a grant proposal to support positive student recycling habits in that hall by providing more convenient recycling.

"The objective is to divert more waste from the landfill and instill habits that will continue throughout the rest of students' time at Luther and after they graduate," Mabry said.

Their research showed that although many first-year students were conscientious about recycling, there was much room for improvement. A sustainability waste audit conducted in 2011 revealed that 45.9 percent of the waste in the dumpster outside of Brandt Hall was non-landfill material.

After holding focus groups, and surveying 156 Brandt residents, the biggest barrier noted was a lack of convenience, and 63 percent of the students surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to recycle if Luther provided each room its own bin.

The grant from the Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency, along with money from the Luther College Sustainability Grant Fund will purchase recycling containers for every dorm room in Brandt as well as the residence hall's bathrooms, laundry rooms and study areas.

The sustainability office recently worked in collaboration with Terry Buenzow at the Winneshiek County Recycling Department to order the bins. Over the summer Jamie Stallman, Luther's Energy and Waste Fellow, will work to label and distribute bins to each room in Brandt Hall. He will also be responsible for further educating first-year students about recycling.

The effectiveness of the added bins in Brandt Hall will be monitored throughout the 2014-15 academic year and the college will eventually look to incorporate a similar program into other residence halls.

"This pilot program is a small step in creating convenience in recycling that could lead to big changes in the way students view recycling and how they will continue sustainable efforts after they leave Luther. Luther's Center for Sustainable Communities is committed to promoting change at Luther that will reach further than just our campus," said Maren Stumme-Diers, Luther College sustainable foods educator.

The mission of the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College is to promote sustainability and be a catalyst for change on campus and in the region through education, outreach and collaboration.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: www.luther.edu.