Environmental Science and Policy
Friedman apartments, Waste practices, Trash, Recycling, Compost, Waste management
At Smith College, the Friedman Apartments have a communal waste station that is not functioning in a way that fully meets the needs of its users. Both Smith College staff and Friedman Apartment residents have shared their concern about the function of this waste disposal space. Friedman residents consistently sort and dispose of their waste improperly at the waste station while staff are ineffectively communicating their waste disposal expectations to residents. These problems have resulted in contaminated recycling at the waste station, creating a waste system that is not meeting the expectations or needs of any of its users. The goals of this project are to clearly identify residents’ points of confusion about Smith’s waste disposal expectations and to educate residents about these expectations. Ultimately, this change could facilitate increased communication and understanding between residents and Smith College staff, improving the functionality of the waste station at the Friedman Apartments for all users. The methods of analysis used in this project include informational interviews with relevant staff from Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, initial and follow-up surveys of Friedman residents, and an educational intervention in the form of informational flyers about waste disposal expectations distributed to Friedman residents. The key findings of this project demonstrated that many residents believe they understand how to dispose of their waste, but are consistently doing so incorrectly because they believe they have already been educated about these expectations. There is limited interaction by Smith staff to re-educate or inform student residents about this problem and not all apartments in the complex have been provided with certain waste disposal materials, like compost bins. In the waste station, the waste receptacles fill with rain and snow and informational signage in the waste station is frequently blown away, lost, or damaged. A lack of clear, consistent communication between residents and staff has resulted in misunderstandings and miscommunication about the expected waste disposal practices. Based on this project’s findings, it is evident that in order to improve the functionality of the Friedman waste station there must be more opportunities for Smith College staff to educate all residents about the current expectations for waste disposal at the apartments. Future recommendations include waste station changes such as adding tops to outdoor receptacles, procuring more recycling toters for the waste station, supplying apartments with lidded trash cans, and providing all apartments with compost bins. In regards to user-experience, recommendations include creating improved and permanent signage in the waste station and creating systems to improve information flow between staff and residents so that all parties are informed and aware of the waste management expectations. For students, recommendations include thoughtfully and respectfully disposing of waste, seeking out resources about waste practices, and using the provided waste disposal information to inform their waste disposal practices. These recommendations aim to improve the efficiency and clarity of the waste management processes at the Friedman Apartments and diminish frustration for all stakeholders.
©2018, Ruth Neils, Carla Yacoub, and Meg Johnson
Neils, Ruth; Yacoub, Carla; and Johnson, Meg, "A Solution Based Study of Waste Practices at Smith’s Friedman Apartments" (2018). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.