From Wastefulness to Usefulness

The Evergreen State College aspires to be a zero waste institution by 2020.

The college adopted its Zero Waste goal in 2007 as a result of campus engagement led by the Sustainability Task force in 2004-05, and incorporated that goal into the Campus Master Plan in 2008. Zero Waste is a visionary goal to guide the change of institutional practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are available as resources for other uses within the functional ecosystem.

Implementing Zero Waste is an effort in applied ethics, economics, and efficiency to minimize or eliminate threats to planetary, human, animal, or plant health caused by ‘waste material’ discharges to land, water, or air. Our aspiration to Zero Waste will require re-visioning and re-designing, and ultimately managing operational processes to systematically:

  • Avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials
  • Conserve and recover all resources
  • And not to burn or bury them

SImply put, this vision requires us to minimize the volume of materials that are not functionally contributing to the health and growth of our ecosystem (inclusive of the social and economic sub-systems). Disposable materials sent to the landfill are truly wasted when they could be purposefully re-used, re-purposed or, at the very least, recycled for resource content.

Evergreen's Sustainability Council has turned to the guidelines developed by the Zero Waste International Alliance for a planning framework to address our zero-waste goal. The ZWIA was “established to promote positive alternatives to landfill and incineration and to raise community awareness of the social and economic benefits to be gained when waste is regarded as a resource base upon which can be built both employment and business opportunity.”

The Evergreen State College Sustainability Council has used the definition, principles, and action steps defined by the ZWIA as a fundamental framework upon which to build a set of principles, goals, and actions specific to the institutional operations of the college.

Evergreen's Disposal Systems

The College's general collection system is set up for

  • Glass (bottles and jars)
  • Mixed Recyclables (paper, cardboard, plastics, metal cans)
  • Landfill (non-recyclable, non-reusable items)

We also collect compostable organic wastes in the food service areas, including:

  • Food scraps
  • Brown paper bags and napkins

(Packaging, de-constructed materials, and other recyclable items are also collected in key back-office and facilities services locations)

Historical waste volumes

Waste volumes per capita

Where does it go?

Miles shipped

Organic wastes go to the Silver Springs Composting facility in south county. Glass and other recyclables are shipped to sorting centers near Tacoma. Landfill wastes, however, though delivered to the Hawks Prairie transfer station in north county, are then delivered by truck and rail to the Roosevelt Landfill in Klickitat County, WA, about 250 miles from Evergreen.

Where can I recycle...

Find more information on residential student move-in and move-out collection of reusable and recyclable materials: RAD's "The Gathering" project, also check Residence and Dining Services' Sustainability blog.

Please refer to Thurston County Solid Waste's excellent Resource List for recycling and other reuse options within our local community.