Through Oct. 12: Exhibit details efforts to reuse, recycle

By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries

Garbology-100PULLMAN, Wash. – In “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash”—Washington State University’s common reading book for 2014-15—readers learn that the average American throws away about 7.1 pounds of trash every day. Over a lifetime, that’s 102 tons of garbage.

WSU Libraries and the university’s waste management department are sponsoring an exhibit through Oct. 12 in the Terrell Library atrium case to show how WSU makes a dent in those numbers by reducing, reusing and recycling waste.

“Garbology at WSU” is part of common reading events for the book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes. Humes will deliver the free, public Common Reading Invited Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, in the CUB ballroom. For more about the book and other events, visit

“We want people to gain an understanding of what is going on already at WSU to help divert waste from the landfill,” said Jenna Bracken, exhibit co-organizer and a waste management intern.

“All of our waste goes somewhere, whether it’s a landfill, recycling center or one of our compost piles on campus,” she said. “Viewers of the exhibit can take ownership of their own 102-ton waste legacy and implement waste minimization techniques that fit their lifestyles.”

Stemming the tide

In fiscal year 2013, WSU recycled about 845 tons of commodities, including comingled, cardboard, mixed paper, appliances, scrap metal and computer scrap, according to Rick Finch, waste management manager in WSU Facilities Services. With wood recycling factored in, the number jumps to roughly 2,132 tons.

Baled recycling at WSU. (Photo by Jenna Bracken, WSU waste management intern)

“We also composted 10,800 tons; 228 tons was food and 1,015 was wood and yard waste,” he said.

“Everyone on campus can help stem the tide of trash by reducing the number of single-use disposable items they purchase, such as plastic bags and water bottles, and by placing waste and recyclables in proper containers,” he said.

WSU’s compost facility, started in 1994, was the first university-based compost facility to process all campus-generated organic waste on a commercial scale. The facility has set such a successful example that WSU classes, local K-12 schools and other universities visit the site to see how its operations run.

Palm trees, anyone?

Instead of trashing items no longer needed by university departments, WSU Surplus Stores accepts and sells everything from computers, audiovisual equipment and lab inventory to furniture, vehicles and cleaning machines. Items not sold to agencies are sold through public sales.

Palm trees at Surplus Stores. (Photo courtesy of WSU Surplus Stores)

You never know what’s up for grabs through Surplus Stores. A visit to its Featured Items Web page ( lists such unique items as a pneumatic manual veterinarian surgery table, preserved palm trees, a Champion cookie depositor and an Oliver bread slicer.

Holly Luetkenhaus, WSU Libraries instruction librarian, said Terrell Library staff members were happy to partner with waste management to highlight university recycling efforts that often go overlooked.

“Most of us do not think about where our trash goes after we throw it out,” she said. “This exhibit helps us confront that in a personal way by showing what happens on our own campus.”

More information about waste management efforts can be found at


Jenna Bracken, WSU waste management intern, 425-449-3705,
Rick Finch, WSU waste management manager, 509-335-3288,
Holly Luetkenhaus, WSU Libraries instruction librarian, 509-335-4667,
Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries public relations/communication coordinator, 509-335-6744,