Keeping Busy

(Above) This is an example poster I designed when proposing the TerraCycle project to my supervisors.

Outside of working hours, I’ve been keeping busy to take advantage of all that Florida has to offer. I have already enjoyed several theme parks and aquariums, the beach (have to remind myself it’s saltwater and not freshwater like the Great Lakes!), and exploring downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg. I was lucky to find a great room in a condo that’s just 5 minutes from the USF campus. My roommate and I became friends, and we’re planning on learning to scuba dive and go swimming with manatees soon.

Now back at work, a side project I have been working on is getting a TerraCycle brigade or two set up on campus. TerraCycle (www.terracycle.net) has around 47 different brigades of items one can collect and send in (via free shipping) to be recycled into new products. These items are ones that are typically thrown away, such as candy bar wrappers, chip bags, writing instruments, etc.

They also collect electronics, though I would highly encourage everyone to take advantage of the recycling programs already offered by most office supply stores and hardware stores for hard-to-recycle items like electronics and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Every little bit helps keep pollutants, like mercury, out of ecosystems we depend on. Anyways, back to TerraCycle.

It’s a fun program because you earn points for the items you send in, which you can cash in for donations. Turn your trash into cash! It’s so easy and can help reduce our waste while helping charities at the same time. I wrote up a proposal for this program and presented it to my supervisors.

After I received the go ahead, I took the next step of making it a reality by getting collection containers to place in convenience stores on campus. If it all works out, I would like to see more of them around campus and to get a student group excited about it enough to take over the program when my internship ends.

I’ve also been looking into composting the dining halls’ food waste, but there does not seem to be a feasible option at this time. I was able to arrange donating some of our coffee grounds, though. I contacted local gardening groups, and they were very interested. The Temple Terrace Community Garden is now picking up grounds once a week from our Juniper-Poplar Dining Hall and attached Starbucks. They are working on expanding both their plots and composting, so in the future I am hoping they will be able to take on more compostable materials. For now, I am glad that I could work it out so they receive good, organic material to enrich their garden that would otherwise go to waste in a landfill.