Mountain of trash meant to teach the value of recycling

By Dan Chavez, Staff Reporter

CNM students, staff, and faculty have organized an event called Mount Trashmore to demonstrate how much recyclable materials are being sent to landfills every day and to generate awareness of the importance of recycling.

The event will take place on Feb. 26 in one of the main campus park­ing lots yet to be deter­mined, in which Waste Management, a CNM branch that handles recy­cling and trash collec­tion will collect one day’s worth of trash from Main Campus and pile it all in one massive trash mound.

Luis Campos, Executive Director of the Physical Plant, said service learn­ing students and faculty will then sort through the heap in protective clothing, separating recyclables from waste, to demonstrate the amount of recyclables that end up going to a landfill instead of recycling plants.

“What we’re not doing very well is getting the stu­dent engaged in the idea of recycling, so we’re trying to figure out how do we do that, and that’s exactly what Mount Trashmore is.” Campos said.

Students looking for more information, or have any suggestions to improve campus recycling should email Luis Campos at lcam­, or Director of Maintenance Anthony Rael at

Campos said that improving CNM recycling and sustainability may be a daunting task, but it is also a very exciting undertaking and that the school looks forward to succeeding in this challenge.

E n g l i s h I n s t r u c t o r, Carson Bennett said CNM currently recycles about 42 percent of the trash that is thrown in campus dumpsters, so there is a lot of work to be done in order to significantly raise that number.

“If we were a zero-waste campus, that would be won­derful,” Bennett said.

Mount Trashmore is an event that is part of RecycleMania, a two month competition against colleges from around the country, according to CNM Media and Communications office.

Each week, the amount of recycled mate­rial will be weighed by Waste and then reported to RecycleMania officials.

Campos said that cus­todians and other staff are being trained to identify recyclable waste and place it into the appropriate dumpsters so that Waste Management will recycle these materials, but there is more work to be done with getting CNM stu­dents involved.

Campos said that during the RecycleMania competition, Waste Management will be plac­ing temporary recycling bins around campus so that they can get a better idea if they should install more recycling bins and where they should be placed.

These bins are meant for all recyclable items and Waste Management will sort them appropriately, and will also rely on student input to determine where extra bins should be located, he said.

“Having a different perspective from students a n d faculty is going to help us to be really good at what we do,” Campos said.

Sharon Gordon- Moffett, Director of Service Learning, said that volunteers would work with Service Learning students, who will be participating in events like Mount Trashmore for some hands-on learning and class credit.

“My side is making it an educational opportunity, making it a Service Learning component directly con­nected to course content,” she said.

A goal of the event is to incorporate RecycleMania and Mount Trashmore as an academic component and having instructors offer this event as a service learning opportunity in which stu­dents gain real-world expe­rience and apply their les­sons to this event, recycling in the community and to the other Service Learning or community activities they work on in the future, she said.

Gordon-Moffett said that Service Learning is comprised of four com­ponents in which students learn academically, serve in the community, reflect on what they accomplished, and become engaged in their communities.

Service Learning stu­dents are given oppor­tunities to earn credit hours working with sev­eral approved non-profits outside of CNM, but the Recyclemania event pres­ents the first time t h e y can get their hours on campus, she said.

RecycleMania is only one of the many events that Service Learning students are involved in, she said.

Gordon-Moffett said she would emphasize the fact that events like Mount Trashmore and the larger Recyclemania competition work to form significant partnerships between facilities, Service Learning, and faculty.

Psychology Instructor, Asa Stone said Mount Trashmore is one of many RecycleMania events being held for a nationwide competition against other schools and institutions, and is also a demonstration of how far CNM has come with recycling and how far the school has to go.

“We want to make recycling a normative behavior,” she said.

Stone said that she would like to see Mount Trashmore organized in a way that students and com­munity members can vol­unteer and participate in the event in order to make it as inclusive as possible.

It is a great way to establish a coherent identity as a member of the CNM community, as well as a member of the larger com­munity, and to be respon­sible to the surrounding areas, Stone said.

Bennett said he had been involved in an annual Mount Trashmore Earth Day event while he was a faculty member at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and he suggested holding a similar event at CNM.

Bennett said he is gathering logistical information from past events held at UCCS, such as security and safety, and using it toward the event at CNM.

“Student involvement is key; students need to be the ones sorting through this stuff because it’s much more relevant to the student population, and because there are so many more students here than anyone else,” Bennett said.

Bennett said that if they can get a fraction of the CNM student popula­tion to participate, that would go a long way to getting the college on track to sustainability.

He is hoping to recruit a couple dozen people from Westside to come to Main Campus and partici­pate in Mount Trashmore, Bennett said.

Campos said he uses the analogy of seat belt use to think about how recy­cling can be ingrained in social culture and every­day behavior.

There was a time when people did not wear seat belts, and when it became a law, some people resisted, but now it is almost automatic to buckle up, he said.

“Recycling should be that seat belt, and we’re not there yet, but we will get there,” he said.

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