Housing Events
and Promotions


Refillable mugs and bottles are a cost-effective and convenient way to help each student reduce waste. They are also subtle yet powerful tools for increasing awareness about waste among students and staff on campus.

If everyone at the UO reused a refillable mug once a day, 20,000 disposable cups a day, 140,000 a week and 7.2 million disposable cups a year would be saved!

Refillable mugs and bottles are one of a new UO student's earliest introductions to waste reduction. At the beginning of each academic year, every freshman moving into the UO residence halls is given a free refillable plastic bottle. These bottles offer students the opportunity to take drinks out of the dining halls and refill with water for free at soda fountains.

Refillable bottles are purchased by the Housing Department so that they can be given out each Fall term. This system has been in place for several years and continues to save both students and UO Housing funds.

Please see " Reduce paper beverage container waste ," from the Oregon Daily Emerald.


What is a Food Waste Audit?
A Food Waste Audit is an educational and promotional event that generates awareness
among students about the environmental issues surrounding food waste.

Food waste audits are a great tool for assessing the food waste in a cafeteria setting.
This is an important tool for reducing production of food waste on campus and also for assessing the need for a campus composting effort.

What is the purpose of doing a Food Waste Audit?
With the goal of reducing waste among the residence hall community, it is important to look at ways of reducing the different areas of waste that contribute to the waste stream. Food waste is often overlooked as part of the waste stream. In food service settings that cater to students, such as buffet-style dining halls, a lesson about wasteful food consumption is particularly appropriate.

A food waste audit can be a very effective educational event in generating awareness. An audit attempts to instill three important concepts:

    1. uneaten food is not an inevitable part of a meal,
    2. food waste can be prevented by taking modest portions
    3. each individual's choice that results in food being wasted has a tremendous impact on the collective waste that is generated.

A goal of the audit is to figure the average per person amount of waste created during a meal. The average waste created by one person at one meal may be an insignificant number, yet when that pattern is repeated several times per day by many people, the collective waste becomes quite significant. One perception that may be a contributing factor to food being consistently wasted may come as a result of a buffet-style dining hall setting. Some students' wasteful food consumption may stem from the understanding that the "all-you-can-eat" system actually equates to "all-you-can-take." Some schools actually have reduced the size of the plates, eliminated trays and also have gone to a point system where people get charged per portion. There are many opportunities to reduce waste in an institutional food service setting. Also many school are looking towards food banks to at least capture the cooked but not served meals. These are just examples of how food waste audits can help schools assess their production and waste while having valuable information to help reduce the overall food (and other compostables) wasted.

Many students take large portions that they cannot finish instead of taking more modest portion sizes at their first visit to the serving areas and going back for more. This results in wasted uneaten food. Food that is prepared and then thrown away is not only wasteful from a landfill use perspective, but also because of the resources that go into preparing that food. Since dining hall meals are often planned by according to servings that were consumed previously, students taking food that goes uneaten often causes more food to be prepared than is necessary.

Please see " Gourmet Garbage ," from the Oregon Daily Emerald.

What is involved in putting a Food Waste Audit together?

Organizing an Audit
Student employee participation is essential for the success of the audit. Make this a student-initiated project as often as possible because it is very beneficial to those who actually do the audit. Participating student employees can also gain an understanding of the impacts of food waste. The following four steps illustrate the ways food waste audits are conducted in the UO dining halls:

1) Select a date for the audit.

2) Select a meal period, dining hall and waste collection method for the audit.

3) Organize the dining hall area, collection containers and monitors to conduct the audit.

•  set up audit collection containers near area where students are accustomed to taking dishes

•  staff audit with monitors - Monitors help alleviate confusion, answer students questions and keep wastes separated properly

•  oversized signs and posters grab attention and help direct students

4) Gathering data from the audit.

Promoting an Audit
Audits can be conducted with or without prior announcements to students. If conducted without prior notice, there is a risk of residents not understanding how to participate. Conversely, it is almost certain to get results that more closely reflect residents consumption habits. If audits are announced prior to the event, residents will be more informed during the event, but may also change their consumption habits for that day so as to not appear wasteful.

A table tent created to stand on each table of the dining hall is an easy way to communicate the purpose, day, and meal of the proposed audit. Table tents are distributed in the dining hall one week prior to the event.

Publishing the Results of an Audit
Most students are in a hurry to leave the dining hall once finished eating, therefore much of the education surrounding the audit is done through the publication of the audit results. Even if the audit was not announced to students prior to the event, publishing the results of the audit is fundamental to the educational purposes of the audit.

A major component of food waste education lies with the extrapolation of an audit's individual meal results into statistics for a week or a month. The numbers add up quickly and can help students be aware that their daily, individual, and seemingly small amount of food waste results in a significant amount in a month.

Table tents are most often used to publish audit results. They should be set out very soon after the audit so that students can relate their experience during the audit to the information that they receive from the table tents. Along with the results, table tents include information about how to reduce food waste and the environmental impacts of wasteful consumption.

Food Waste Audit Data

Date Location Meal Number Served Lbs. Food Lbs. Per Person Lbs. Trash Lbs. Per Person Lbs. Napkins Lbs. Per Person No. Napkins Per Person Fruit & Veggie Scraps Lbs. Per Person
4/20/95 Carson Lunch 980 260.0 0.265 42.0 0.043 8.0 0.008 1.0    
4/20/95 Hamilton Dinner 690 250.0 0.360 14.0 0.020 11.0 0.016 2.0    
4/20/95 Univ. Inn Breakfast 267 57.0 0.210 17.0 0.060 3.0 0.011 1.4    
1/16/96 Univ. Inn Dinner 406 200.0 0.490 15.0 0.036 10.0 0.024 3.0    
1/18/96 Carson Breakfast 512 105.0 0.210 8.0 0.015 5.0 0.009 1.1    
4/24/96 Carson Dinner 1126 235.0 0.200 10.0 0.009 36.0 0.032 4.0    
4/20/98 Carson Lunch 407 100.0 0.250 ---------- ---------- 8.0 0.020 2.5    
5/25/99 Carson Breakfast 389 79.0 0.200 ---------- ---------- 5.0 0.013 1.6    
10/25/99 Carson Lunch 965 ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- 24.0 0.025 3.1    
11/15/99 Carson Lunch 858 259.0 0.300 ---------- ---------- 18.0 0.021 2.6    
11/13/01 Carson Lunch 556 127.0 0.230 2.0 0.004 9.0 0.016 2.0 48.0 0.007
11/15/01 Carson Lunch 515 114.0 0.220 14.0 0.027 7.0 0.013 1.7 34.0 0.066
11/14/03 Carson Lunch 465 133.0 0.280 10.0 0.020 8.0 0.017 2.1 39.0 0.080

Number Served
Lbs. Uneaten Food
Lbs. Per Person
Lbs. Trash
Lbs. Per Person
Lbs. Napkins
Lbs. Per Person
No. Napkins Per Person
Compostable Waste (Fruit/Veggie Scraps, Paper waste)
Lbs. Per Person
94 0.22 8 0.02 7 0.02
51 0.12
105 0.17 17 0.02 2.4 0.003
55.5 0.08
61 0.34 3.5 0.02 2.5 0.0013
5.5 0.03
83 0.2 31 0.08 1.5 0.0037
40 0.1
90 0.35 4 0.015 1.5 0.005
8 0.03
126 0.33 11.5 0.03 2 0.005
38 0.1
73 0.24 5.5 0.018 1 0.003
39 0.13
93 0.258 38.5 0.11 1.5 0.004
33 0.09
72.5 0.23 12.5 0.04 3 0.009
20 0.06
124.5 0.31 5 0.012 2 0.005
17 0.04
53 0.19 21 0.07 1.5 0.005
14 0.05
72.5 0.23 12.5 0.04 3 0.009
20 0.06
124.5 0.31 5 0.012 2 0.005
17 0.04
53 0.19 21 0.07 1.5 0.005
14 0.05
72.5 0.18 0.5 0.0012 1 0.002
32 0.08
120.5 0.27 16.5 0.04 3 0.006
13.5 0.03
99 0.2 36.5 0.07 1 0.002
16.5 0.03
52 0.22 1.5 0.006 n/a n/a
4 0.02
91.5 0.16 0.5 0.0008 1 0.002
20.5 0.036
Beginning in 2006, Napkins category refers to all unused napkins.
Uneaten Food includes both compostable and non-compostable leftovers.
Compostable Waste includes inedible fruit/veggie scraps and paper waste


Napkin audits can be done randomly during the year to figure out the average amount of napkins used per person. These are most often done in conjunction with Food Waste Audits. These audits are done in eat-in dining halls, so that all napkins generated within the dining hall and disposed of on site, rather than being thrown away outside. This method helps to maintain accuracy. A collection is done of all the napkins used during one meal period. To determine the average napkin use per person for that meal period, follow this sample calculation:

Step 1: Determine the weight per napkin .
Divide the weight of a ream of napkins by the number of napkins in one ream.
Sample calculation: 2.5 lbs / 500 napkins = 0.005 lbs per napkin*

Step 2: Determine weight of napkins collected.
Weigh all containers or bags of collected napkins.

Step 3: Determine the number of napkins collected.
Divide the weight of collected napkins by the per napkin weight*
Sample calculation: 10 lbs / 0.005 lbs = 2000 napkins collected

Step 4: Determine the number of napkins per person.
Divide the number of napkins collected by the number of people present at meal
Sample calculation: 2000 napkins / 800 people = 2.5 napkins per person

An important educational component of napkin audits lies with the extrapolation of the individual meal statistics into statistics for a week or a month. The numbers add up quickly and can be very helpful in promoting napkin waste reduction. After the audit is conducted, table tents are displayed to inform residents of the number of napkins used per person and to promote waste reduction. Slogans such as "Use Wisely, Napkins = Trees" and interesting waste reduction tips can be added to the table tents to show how one napkin can affect so many other resources.

An audit two or three weeks later can help determine whether or not napkin use has reduced. If multiple audits will be done throughout the year for comparison, all audits should be conducted at the same dining hall and meal period. Compare the numbers from both audits and present them in another table tent to show residents whether there has been a change in napkin use and thus what that napkin use means in environmental impacts. Include "use wisely" slogans and waste reduction facts, in the announced results to further promote waste reduction.


Please refer to information about In-room recycling bins in the Residence Hall section.


Recycling staff can facilitate social and educational events in Housing such as intra-hall recycling competitions, donation drives and Earth Week activities. RecycleMania , the inter-collegiate recycling competition, is a great opportunity to develop activities and events specifically focusing on students living on campus.

Contact the Housing Recycling Coordinator at (541) 346-0929 if you are interested in seeing any of these events happen in your area. Please see more information on competitions and other activities here.



  • held during Spring term
  • opportunity for family housing residents to get rid of unwanted, reusable items
  • Housing Recycling Coordinator organizes post-sale pick-up of unsold or unclaimed items with local charity organization
  • held in front of Common Area at Spencer View
  • advertisements placed in local newspapers and signs posted around neighborhood
  • staff set up tables and residents layout items to sell
  • residents determine prices and oversee selling
  • unsold items are centralized for pick-up by charity organization
  • additional opportunity to hold round-ups of special waste such as household hazardous and electronic waste


Residence Halls

Just before classes begin each Fall term, nearly 3700 students move into on-campus residence halls. The bustle of traffic and people make this time of year a recycling challenge. The residence halls open for Move-ins beginning in the middle of the week prior to the first day of classes. Many students moving into residence halls are new to on-campus life and take a few days to get oriented with the details

Prior to residents moving on-campus, several things are done to promote recycling and waste reduction among residents:

  1. Each room is outfitted with an in-room recycling bin.
  2. Put up informational doorhangers on hall rooms or attach educational flyers to in-room recycling bins.
  3. Incoming freshmen are giving a refillable water bottle

Recycling service during Move-ins

  • recycling pick-up schedule increases from a lighter summer schedule to a heavier, more frequent pick-ups starting Move-in Week (week prior to start of Fall term)
  • locations for extra cardboard collection around residence halls determined by Housing recycling Coordinator, Housing staff and cardboard hauler
  • Block styrofoam and clean plastic bags are also collected alongside corrugated cardboard when possible
  • extra containers typically placed in highly visible areas along path of high traffic
  • corrugated cardboard recycling pick-ups increase to twice per day for two week period
  • recycling staff regularly visit all residence hall cardboard sites and maintain organization of the sites by flattening boxes, sorting recyclables and trash and cleaning up collection areas
  • Move-in Week generates over 12 tons of corrugated cardboard for recycling

Off-Campus Housing
The Housing Recycling Program does not conduct special preparations for Move-ins at the off-campus housing complexes. Large numbers of new tenants moving in at the same time is less predictable that the one-time move-in period for the residence halls.. A way of handling an influx of new tenants over a short period is for the director of the off-campus areas to communicate with the Housing Recycling Coordinator about the potential needs for more recycling service during this influx.



Residence Halls

Housing Recycling during Move-Out week

  • busiest time of the year for Housing Recycling Program
  • residence halls affected most dramatically
  • recycling collection remains in same locations for Move-Outs
  • two to three times of student labor needed to service increased recycling

Why is Move-Out week so busy?

    • last week of term is Final Exam week and Move-Out week
    • room preparation for summer conferences and camps begins immediately following Move-Out week
    • residents MUST be out of halls by 7pm Friday of Move-Out week
    • mass exodus of most residents during final three days of Move-Out week
    • collection of recyclables increases 300% above an average week during the academic year

Recovering Reusables

Preparing for Move-Out Week

    • discuss recycling service plans and details with Housing Department staff at Spring term closedown meeting
    • create a move-out campaign and/or slogan to brand recycling and reuse efforts
    • create awareness about recycling and donating reusable items through many avenues:
      • advertisements in student newspaper
      • hall lobby posters
      • informational doorhangers placed on each residence hall room door ( reshallmoveout.pdf )
      • recycling and donation language in Housing department information/memos given to residents about move-out process
      • dining hall table tents
      • Collect packing boxes prior to Move-Out Week and give them away as a promotion for the donation drive

Potential Approaches

Despite the large quantities of recyclable and reusable materials that are recovered each year, there are equally large quantities of these items getting thrown away. Therefore, a tremendous potential exists for developing new methods for Move-out Week collection.

Several other Move-out Week waste recovery ideas:

Off-Campus Housing

Below are some other colleges and universities Move-Out recycling programs:

California State University , Chico State - http://www.aschico.com/recycle/annualevents
Diversion Excursion

Ohio University - http://www.facilities.ohiou.edu/recycle/move_out.htm
(includes a helpful Powerpoint presentation).

Move Outs Totals

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