Virginia Tech Dining Services has developed a new website to make recycling an easier process for students.

Introduced this semester in Turner Place at Lavery Hall, Sit & Sort educates diners on waste systems and how different items should be properly disposed.

Rial Tombes, sustainability coordinator for Dining Services, was instrumental in the creation of the website. 

“The Sit & Sort program came about as a response to student feedback about the waste stations at Turner Place,” said Tombes. “Students mentioned that the signs with pictures on the Waste Stations were helpful, but that they kept causing a line at the waste stations because they were stopping to look at the signs before throwing their trash away. So, Sit & Sort was born.” 

The site is meant to be a resource for customers to use while still sitting at their table. If there’s an item they are unsure of, customers can look it up and make sure they are disposing of items properly.

The site consists of a simplified point-and-click process for diners to follow when considering what items they have left over after a meal. The result is a breakdown of waste into color-coded sections: green for compost, blue for recyclables, and black for trash. 

Following the itemization of personal waste is a statistics box demonstrating the contribution to the campus-wide sustainability effort. A poster campaign to accompany the website is forthcoming. The signs will feature pictures of waste items divided into the standardized green, blue, black color-coding in an effort to remind students to recycle responsibly.

Launched side-by-side with a new reusable to-go container program at West End Market, Sit & Sort is the next addition to a long line of Virginia Tech sustainability programs. 

In 2009, Dining Services launched its first composting program at the Southgate Food Processing Center. Since then, the university has increased efforts to source foods locally and opened the Farms and Fields Project in Owens Food Court to offer a local, sustainable, and organic option on campus, incorporated a Virginia Tech Milk program to serve milk harvested from the campus dairy herd, and created a sustainability coordinator position to facilitate further green initiatives.

Despite Virginia Tech’s support and dedication to sustainable programs, organizing and designing the website was a large task. 

“I worked with the Turner Place staff to get a list of all of the containers that are provided at Turner Place. This was a big list,” said Tombes. “From there, I worked on translating these items into layman’s terms and providing consistent language so that customers at Turner Place would know what we were talking about. The Division of Student Affairs’ communications and information technology team then took it from there.”

Developed and programmed in a single summer, the program remains easy to update and boasts several features designed to keep users involved. 

“A neat feature about the program is the cumulative count that the website keeps of how many items have been composted, recycled, and trashed,” said Tombes. This allows students to see a direct, tangible representation of the difference correctly recycling makes.

More information about Dining Services at Virginia Tech can be found at their Facebook page.



Written by Drew Knapp.
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