UVM student eco-reps, cycling to recycle

Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 7:56 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Univesity of Vermont has welcomed a greener, cleaner way of gathering food waste from residence halls this fall.

Three student eco-Reps, Molly, Alissa, and Cy have been collecting food scraps by cycling to each residence hall on a new electric cargo bike which they’ve affectionately named scrappy.

“It’s just fun to ride around campus. You can just kind of zoom up hills and everything and I’ve just gotten some comments just passing by -- someone yells, ‘Sick bike.’ It’s fun,” said Cy Stavros, a first-year plant biology major.

Twice a week, each Monday and Wednesday, the eco-reps pedal out to pickup points -- usually the lobbies of residence halls. They bring back the food waste to the Davis Center and deposit it in bins located in a climate-controlled, walk-in cooler.

“It’s really cool to be actually feeling like we’re making a difference because a lot of the time we talk about all these bigger environmental problems and it doesn’t really feel tangible to us. We, as students, can actually be doing this thing every week that’s reducing emissions, keeping trucks from having to go around campus,” said Alissa Frame, a junior environmental studies major.

In the past, the program relied on a campus vehicle. However, the new system runs on good old-fashioned pedal power and reduces emissions by eliminating the need for gas-powered transportation.

“It creates a lot of extra emission from the trucks stopping and starting every couple buildings and so this is a way to reduce that,” said Molly Babowal, a sophomore forestry student.

The eco-reps say that the program also reminds the students on campus of the importance of composting. “It’s improving or increasing awareness around composting in the residence halls when they start to see us going around, and we can just remind them, ‘You can be composting in your room, or in your dorm.’ And, yeah, I think overall, it’s just good visibility and making people more aware of sustainability initiatives on campus,” Frame said.

The students say they hope the program will continue into the future.