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Free screening of the film TRASHED to accompany PSU waste sort

Four and a half pounds—that’s the amount of trash the average American produces per day. Four and a half pounds of trash. 316 million people. 365 days a year. That’s a lot of trash. In fact, it’s nearly double the amount of trash the average American produced just fifty years ago.

On October 2, PSU’s Campus Sustainability Office, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and Community Environmental Services will welcome students back to campus with a little trash talk. The group will host a waste sort outside of Smith Memorial Student Union, followed by a free screening of the award-winning film TRASHED.

TRASHED follows Jeremy Irons as he travels around the world to beautiful destinations now polluted by consumer waste—like a once pristine Lebanese beach that has become a reeking mountain of trash. Similar landfills skirt cities and towns around the globe and are filled with products that leach toxic chemicals—from plastics, paints, electronics—that eventually make their way into our water and food sources.

Last spring, the Campus Sustainability Office conducted a waste audit of the PSU campus, and found that the vast majority PSU’s trash, about 74 percent, could have been diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting, or avoided altogether by using durable goods. Through the combined efforts of PSU students, faculty, and staff, the amount of trash we send to the landfill—or ship off to a beach in Lebanon—can be greatly reduced.

“The joy of the problem,” said Jeremy Irons in an interview with The Guardian, “unlike so many which confront us, is that it is easily surmountable.” 

Here’s what you can do to help surmount the problem at PSU:

  • Bring your own coffee mug to campus—disposable coffee cups are resource intensive to make and not recyclable in Portland.
  • Avoid disposable water bottles by filling your reusable bottle at one of the filtered water stations on campus (see map) or at any tap—Portland has some of the best tap water in the country
  • Compost your food scraps, napkins, and paper towels in locations across campus (the Viking Food Court, Victor’s Dining Hall, or department break rooms).
  • Find free—or donate usable—school and office supplies in the PSU ReUse Room, Cramer Hall 180. 
  • Recycle acceptable paper, metal, and plastics in the mixed recycling bins, and place glass bottles and jars separately in the glass recycling bins.
  • Recycle batteries and used electronics by submitting a work order (for departments) or by using one of the collection bins in residence halls (for students).
  • Purchase supplies made with recycled content to ensure a market for our recycling.
  • For event giveaways, avoid trinkets that will soon end up in the garbage and offer more durable, useful items (see PSU Green Event Guide for ideas). 
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