News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 21, 2013

SMWC residence hall floors competing to reduce trash

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — Students in Le Fer Hall at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College are competing to see which floor can produce the least amount of trash this week.

The competition has been organized by the college’s Sustainability Club.

The goal is to heighten awareness of recycling and reduce the amount of trash going to landfills, said Robert Jean, the club’s faculty adviser.

Housekeepers have been counting the number of bags of trash in recent weeks. They’ll keep track again this week, said Emma Bird, president of the Sustainability Club.

Each student on the winning floor will win a sustainable prize, and the winning floor will receive a trophy to display and compete for again next year.

“We want to address the issue,” Bird said. “We’ve discovered Le Fer produces 25 bags of trash every day, and we feel this is way too much for the number of students living there.”

She and other club members recently spent three days going through several bags of trash on residence hall floors and found 917 items that could be recycled.

They wore rubber gloves to protect their hands. “It was pretty disgusting,” she said.

They took those recovered recyclables, used wire netting and put together an outdoor display located between Le Fer and Hulman halls.

To generate interest in the competition, the club has sent out emails and even made a YouTube video, which shows Bird going through trash in Le Fer.

As part of the competition, students are being encouraged to recycle everything that can be recycled, buy products with less packaging, and re-use items when possible, instead of throwing them away. The four-day competition ends Friday.

Sustainability is important to Bird, who grew up on a farm. “I hate seeing trash everywhere and recyclables thrown away,” said the West Terre Haute junior. “It’s like a moral issue to me.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or