After conducting our surveys, monitoring recycling bins, and speaking to various businesses on campus we have concluded that as a whole, Carleton University has a lot of work to do. We determined that Carleton students not only believed that they are not properly educated on the topic of recycling, but also state that they would recycle more if given the opportunity. There is not a big enough emphasis on the importance of recycling for not only the university but for the planet as well. It is hard to believe that after being quizzed on certain items, that university educated students still struggle with determining which products go in which bins! There are many people who know the importance of recycling but do not do anything about it. People are living in denial about the future, and we believe it is our job to help to inform the public and get people to start thinking about it!
Waste management can be defined as the “collection, removal, processing, and disposal of materials considered waste” (Ecolife Dictionary). Waste can be put into landfills, incinerated, recycled, or composted. The most sustainable way to manage waste is to recycle and compost.
In our research, we looked at how well informed the students at Carleton University are on recycling, as it is an important part of waste management. We decided to ask questions to do with things such as if being more informed would effect their recycling habits, and if they know where to recycle used batteries.
Carleton students had some trouble deciding which items belong in which recycling bin (paper products, plastics, glass). They also generally thought that knowing more about waste management would encourage them to recycle more. These results can be interpreted as a need for educating people more about recycling, why it is important, and how it works.
Our recommendations specifically to Ottawa, but also most of Canada, would be to educate children from when they are young on the effect and importance of recycling. They will feel good to know they are helping the world and each other, and hopefully continue these good practices as they grow up. In theory, they will teach their children to take care of the earth through proper waste management, and it will continue through the generations. We would hope that children and even adults are taught to not only recycle, but reduce and reuse as well.
For adults, it would probably be beneficial to educate them on the cost benefits, for things like continuing to use their electronics until they no longer work, rather than buying a new version every year. We would like to recommend people pay attention before buying an item as well, to avoid things that are over-wrapped, contain a lot of plastics, etc. We would like to see more recycling of items like tires, electronics, and hazardous wastes, and this will come from education and easy access to disposal sites.
In the future, we would like to see the government get involved in incentives for recycling in the Ottawa community.