Office of Sustainability  >  Campus Sustainability  >  Waste Minimization and Recycling  

Waste Minimization and Recycling


Americans generated over 240 million tons of trash in a year, of which George Mason University contributed about 5,000 tons or close to 9 million pounds of trash. (2009)  Not only do landfills take up a good deal of land, making it unsightly, but when garbage decomposes it emits methane, a strong greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.  The most effective way of reducing trash is the 3 Rs—reduce, reuse, and then recycle.  We can reduce the amount of “stuff” we purchase and make sure that the things we buy are less harmful to the environment.  We can reuse and repurpose items already produced, saving money and the environment.  Did you know that you can get a discount on campus if you refill with your own reusable cup at Starbucks, Jazzman's, or La Patisserie?  Research says that we should be able to recycle up to 75% of our waste.  Last year, Mason recycled 15% of its waste—we can do better!  If each person at Mason recycles just one aluminum can a day that adds up to 40,000 cans a day!  The energy we save by recycling a single aluminum can will run a TV for three hours.  That means if all of us were to recycle one can, there would be enough energy to power a TV for almost 14 years!


George Mason University has several programs to minimize our waste, responsibly purchase, and promote recycling.  Mason has a green purchasing policy a green cleaning program; a surplus store where department across campus can get items for free; a book buyback and donation program; donating items from Patriot Pack Out during Move-Out in residential life; and recycles cardboard, white paper, mixed paper, 1 through 7 plastics, glass, aluminum, and metal.  The Commonwealth of Virginia requires that its counties have a 25% recycling rate.  Mason aims to reduce the amount of waste it produces and recycle at least 25% of its trash by 2014.  Help us get to and exceed that goal!