Outhouse offers myriad recycling options for eco-conscious students

Laura Niman

The Outhouse’s large recycling truck can be seen on campus every Sunday morning traveling to each residence hall to collect recyclables. The Outhouse, or the Environmental Interest House, was the driving force behind the establishment of Whitman’s own recycling program, which reflects the environmentally conscious nature of the campus.Outhouse offers myriad recycling options for eco-conscious students | Photo by Glory Bushey

But there seems to be some confusion on campus as to how and what students can recycle through this program.

“They’re mistakes I would have made as a freshman,” said sophomore Outhouse resident Chloe Summerland. Students frequently try to recycle things like milk cartons, colored glass or wrapping paper.

It seems the problem is due in large part to a lack of knowledge about what can and cannot be recycled in Walla Walla, especially because students are coming to campus from such a variety of backgrounds.

The Outhouse’s Resident Assistant senior Hongngoc Pham said the interest house is considering making presentations to the first-year sections to remedy this problem. These presentations would try to increase awareness about what can and cannot be recycled and how to prepare items to be recycled. She said one of the most frustrating things is when people don’t rinse out bottles or cans before they recycle them.

Outhouse residents spend a lot of time on Sundays doing the kinds of things that students should do with their recyclables before recycling them. They also have to separate out objects that cannot be recycled.

“One of the biggest uses of time is breaking down cardboard,” said sophomore Outhouse resident Becca Bright.

Outhouse resident Anna Clark viewed certain potentially annoying aspects of the recycling process in a positive light. “When [the residents] don’t take the lids off plastic bottles I have to take them off so I can crush them,” she said, smiling. “We also get to jump up and down on the aluminum cans.”

Pham said she often has to separate colored and clear glass, because the Outhouse can only recycle clear glass in Walla Walla. They can also only recycles types one and two plastic.
Residents of the Outhouse said that people often try to recycle packing peanuts or other Styrofoam products that are not recyclable. An e-mail from the Conservation and Recycling Committee on campus asked that students bring Styrofoam packing peanuts to distribution services at Boyer House, where they will be reused.

Many students are not aware that the Outhouse will recycle batteries, although they do not pick them up weekly.

Pham said this recycling confusion is no worse this year than it has been in the past. In fact, the Outhouse still encounters recycling mistakes in dorms for upperclassmen as well as first-year dorms.

One resident referenced a time when “we went to Douglas and [the recycling] was all over the place.”

Outhouse residents went on to say that the most important thing is for students to sort their own recycling.

“It’s really not that humongous of a hassle,” said sophomore Outhouse resident Joanna Jungerman of the recycling process. “The only time it’s a hassle is when things aren’t sorted or when things are everywhere.”