Auburn University Public Safety has placed cameras by each of the trash containers not to keep students from “dumpster diving,” but to prevent possible health risks.
“It can be hazardous,” said Amy Mosley, administrative assistant of student housing. “Say there’s a resident with diabetes that has hypothermic needles. If you’re dumpster diving, you may accidentally step on it. We wish we could go though each of the bins and get all the good materials out, but it would be dangerous.”
According to Auburn University Recycling Coordinator Leigh Jacobson, Auburn removed 5,098 tons of nonrecyclable materials from campus from October 2010 to September 2011. A high percentage of this waste is from on-campus residents.
Sarah Smith, resident assistant for Oak Hall and senior in rehabilitation services, said she experienced more waste problems from a freshman dorm than she has with the mostly sophomores and juniors who live in Oak Hall.
“We don’t have any community trash cans in the building to eliminate any excess trash, but dumpsters are located throughout all the Quad, Hill and Village, so it is convenient for residents to drop off their trash on the way to class,” Smith said. “At the end of every year, Residence Life encourages residents to leave any item that is in good shape downstairs in their lobbies.”
For the last 20 years the University has been working to reduce waste from its on-campus residents. Mosely said the housing and residence life department sets up tents each year to divert as much trash as possible to local charities.
“We host a ‘Check-Out for Charity’ where we set out tents for Salvation Army where residents can drop off household items like furniture or clothing,” Mosley said.
Mosley said the tents are placed close to the large rolling trash bins outside the dorms to both capture attention and make it easier for students to drop off their items.
“We try to prevent them from throwing away really good items,” she said. “We put the tents as near to the large roll-offs as we can so they will say, ‘Oh, I’ll donate as much as I can instead of throwing out things that can be reused.’”
Residents are encouraged to donate food, furniture, clothes and cleaning supplies.
“It’s a good way to pass along the good items to people who are in need and also helps the residents with having to move less stuff,” Smith said.
The Auburn Waste Reduction and Recycling Department handles solid waste and recycling containers for all residential dorms.
"Larger containers are provided to accommodate the volume of waste during move out, but it is up to the residents to do their part and dispose of materials appropriately by either donating usable goods, recycling paper, cardboard, bottles and cans or by throwing away nonrecyclable goods in the large trash bins provided at each site," Jacobson said.
Last year Auburn recycled 2,314 tons of material, which was an improvement from the year before, when the University disposed of a third more trash by not recycling.
Mosley said she hopes recycling efforts will continue to improve during future years through programs like ‘Check-Out for Charity.’