UOG CIS and Sea Grant team work for waste free Charter Day celebration

UOG CIS and Sea Grant team members along with Peggy Denny from iRecycle and Americorp volunteers assisted in making the UOG Charter Day celebration a waste-free event sorting food, recyclable and waste following the event for composting and recycling.

On March 2nd, 2023, the University of Guam held its 55th Charter Day celebration and the Center for Island Sustainability (CIS) and Sea Grant were there to initiate and implement a zero-waste festivity.

Phil Cruz, outreach coordinator with CIS and Sea Grant, was the mastermind behind the plan with execution by CIS and Sea Grant staff and volunteers from AmeriCorps UOG, EPSCoR/INCLUDES students, environmental biology students and other UOG classes.

Green and blue bins were distributed around campus labeled as to what they would hold: paper and compostable items, aluminum cans, steel cans, and landfill items. Buckets were provided for food waste and volunteers were on hand to assist people in knowing what goes where. A total of 33 volunteers from UOG classes, student organizations, and Guam EPSCoR GRAs monitored the bins.

The zero-waste fun really began in the afternoon, when AmeriCorps UOG volunteers sorted and consolidated the various types of waste. The next step was to transfer it to the appropriate locations. Bio-waste will be shredded with a wood chipper and given to the UOG CNAS Sustainable Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources program to use as compost for their campus demonstration gardens. Local pig farmers got the food waste, with metal cans to be recycled through the Guam Solid Waste Authority. Aluminum cans were placed in the i*recycle bin located at the School of Education parking lot where we can all add our aluminum to recycle and make money for Guam schools. Trash destined for the landfill was gathered and left for UOG maintenance employees to remove.

“Although I couldn’t participate physically during the event due to a recent tonsillectomy, I’m so grateful to my awesome team at CIS, Sea Grant, and EPSCoR for stepping up and executing the zero waste initiative. I’m also very grateful for the support of AmeriCorps UOG Volunteer Center. Although we didn’t reach the zero waste goal (divert at least 80% of waste from the landfill), we made an impact on our fellow Tritons, visitors, and vendors through our waste diversion efforts,” said Cruz, who directed the event remotely.

AmeriCorps UOG volunteers sorted and bagged the collected waste in 55-gal bags. The total count was as follows:

· 8 bags of biodegradables

· 3 bags of aluminum cans

· 8 bags of landfill waste

· 6 5-gallon buckets of food waste.

The winners of this successful operation are many. First, the people who attended the 55th Charter Day and witnessed the attention to detail of solid waste disposal and how it can be processed so that only the bare minimum makes it to our landfill. Second, everyone onGuam benefits from having less waste traveling to our landfill so that it will be in service for many years to come and limit the need to clear additional acres of savanna.

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