‘Gurus’ clean up campus with powerful recycling mission

Whispered rumors have reached us about a dedicated band of "Recycling Gurus" on ASU campuses who can enlighten students on how to improve the ecological footprints of their residence halls. The Gurus' mantra for recycling compactors: "No glass, no plastic bags, no pizza boxes." Repeat 50 times, please. We tracked down two of the Recycling Gurus and in a Q&A with the duo found out what makes them tick. Hailing from the Center Complex dorms, freshman Mechanical Engineering and Sustainability students Andrew Latimer and Alex Davis tell us more about their lives as Recycling Gurus...

Q: Who are the "Recycling Gurus" and what is their mission?

A: The Recycling Gurus are primarily from the ASU RAD Recycling club and represent residence halls across campus. Their focus is to educate residents about recycling and ensure that any issues with recycling in the halls are handled accordingly.

Q: What inspired you to recycle or why did you become a Recycling Guru?

A: I was already actively involved with the recycling efforts in Center Complex, and when I learned of the Recycling Gurus, it was only natural to join. Heather McFelea [President of Students of Arizona Network for Sustainability] held a meeting and it seemed like a great way to get involved in the recycling movement on campus.

Q: Describe a typical (or fabulous) day in the life of a Recycling Guru.

A: Usually we check the recycling compactor two to three times a day - morning, noon, and night - and fish out any of the contamination that we can reach (which is almost nothing now!) and then constantly develop new posters and educational materials for the halls. We also meet with campus leaders to plan recycling events.

Q: What has been your biggest reward as a Recycling Guru?

A: When we painted our compactor as part of the competition, we had more than 50 students come out and hand-paint the compactor. Not only did this make it glaringly obvious where the recycling was, but it also was awesome to see how many students really care about recycling.

Q:  What is the biggest challenge facing Recycling Gurus?

A: Unfortunately, many students are still unaware of what can and can't be recycled, so we are working on a massive education campaign to try to lower contamination.

Q: What advice or encouragement would you offer an aspiring Recycling Guru?

A: Get involved! There is no better way to help the recycling efforts than to jump in headfirst with the rest of us. Recycling in the residence halls is an ongoing project, so it is never to late to come aboard.

Q: What exciting events or projects are you working on?

A: We are working on promoting RecycleMania and Eco-Madness and figuring out ways to make recycling fun for our residents.  We also met with some CA's earlier about a new competition coming in April for the largest structure built from recyclables, which will be exciting. We are also in the process of organizing recycling for Fall Move-in.

Q: What recycling tips can you offer us non-gurus?

A: Help out the Gurus with their events if you can; otherwise, learn what is recyclable and what is not (i.e., no plastic bags, no soft plastics, no glass).

Q: What's in your trash can now?

A: There are a few soft plastics and wrappers and an individual pizza box (also not recyclable, please keep that in mind), but the vast majority of our waste is now recycled.

Interested in becoming a Recycling Guru? Contact Heather McFelea for more information.


RAD Recycling:

Heather McFelea:
[email protected]