A group of students at the Graduate Center (GC) formed a Sustainability Working Group to carry out research on the recycling behaviors of people at the GC. We were interested to know how people recycle and interpret the signage surrounding the various waste receptacles. Further, we were also interested to know where our garbage goes after it’s sorted and collected.
These and other questions led us to carry out a survey project on the recycling behaviors, opinions, and attitudes of GC community members using survey tools. This survey was a 10-year follow up to an earlier project carried out by an alumna of the Environmental Psychology Program. Statistical analyses of more than 100 respondents revealed a number of key themes reflecting a general confusion and frustration with regards to the accessibility and clarity of how to dispose of trash. We are in the process of reviewing these data further for additional analyses.
In conjunction with our survey, we also decided to ‘follow’ the trash at the GC to see where it goes after it leaves the building. Our pursuit led us to speak with the manager of City Waste Services, and to visit a few waste transfer facilities located in the Bronx. This field trip taught us a great deal about how the entire City’s waste and recycling are collected, sorted, and transferred. We plan to use the combination of observations and statistical analyses to develop a report for dissemination.