Roble is the first residence to ditch its landfill dumpster in support of Stanford’s zero waste efforts, which was accomplished before shelter-in-place. The initiative was led by Residential & Dining Enterprises’ intern Sarah Pinto and several Roble Sustainability Leaders (RSLs) and illustrates the psychological effects of waste and behavior change. Giant, open landfill dumpsters discourage waste sorting behavior, resulting in landfill that is contaminated with recyclable and compostable materials.
Before removing the dumpster, the team educated Roble residents every week at house meetings and during Sunday “Sip and Sort" events where students were encouraged to take their waste out and sort it with experts in exchange for a reusable mug. With waste sorting best practices, the team found that Roble residents were able to minimize their waste to only four landfill carts. To put this into perspective, a typical four-person family uses one landfill cart for their home while all 300 plus residents at Roble shared only four carts.
Further, Sarah and the RSLs performed 71 waste audits of the enclosure between September 2019 and March 2020, and the project reduced Roble’s landfill capacity by 83%, or by 40 cubic yards a month.