Garbology Reveals More Could be Recycled in The Link

A garbology study led by Duke Recycles during Earth Month revealed that 43 percent of items thrown in the trash at The Link could have been recycled.

As part of Earth Month at Duke, Duke Recycles and student volunteers from Students for Sustainable Living and the Environmental Alliance held a garbology study on the CI Quad on Thursday, April 19.  A garbology study investigates the percentage garbage headed to the landfill that could have been recycled instead. 

"Participating in the garbology was an interesting way to learn about all of the items that could have been recycled instead of thrown away," said Emilie Franke, a student volunteer from Students for Sustainable Living.


Duke Recycles has been organizing garbology events at Duke for over 10 years and each year a different building is selected. This year Duke Recycles and student volunteers chose to examine the waste from The Link in Perkins Library.  They were interested in learning how effective students are at recycling in this particular location. 

All the garbage produced from one day in The Link was collected and brought to the CI Quad.  Volunteers then meticulously sorted all the trash, separating out any items that were recycleable.  Volunteers discovered that in total 60.5 pounds of garbage were removed from The Link, of which 26 pounds could have been recycled.  By material, 10.5 pounds of paper and 15.5 pounds of beverage containers were removed. 

Of all of the trash examined, 43 percent could have been recycled. "Garbologies are meant to be an educational exercise", said Recycling Coordinator Arwen Buchholz, "We want to teach participants and onlookers what can be recycled and also to bring attention to the large amount of items that could have been recycled, but instead end up in a landfill."