Creator of SOU’s Waste Management Project is Ashland’s Conservationist of the Year

(Ashland, ORE) – Southern Oregon University student Misty Munoz will be acknowledged at the Science Works Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21, as the recipient of the Ashland Conservation Commission’s “Conservationist of the Year” award for her efforts to launch a campus-wide waste management program at SOU. The program began operating last September and includes a recycling center on the Ashland campus, indoor and outdoor recycling bins for every university building, a fulltime recycling coordinator and student assistants.

Munoz, a senior majoring in Environmental Studies, launched the project through a classroom capstone project overseen by Environmental Studies Professor Mark Shibley, and Native American Studies Professor David West in order to fulfill requirements for the Native American Studies certificate. Students Christine Becker, Benji Nagel and Charlie Chao also worked on the project.

“Hopefully this will put SOU on the path to having zero waste in five years,” said Munoz at the program launch. Munoz and other members of the Ecology Center of the Siskiyous (ECOS), an SOU student group, realized the need for an enhanced recycling program on Earth Day 2010 when students dumped a week’s worth of trash on the patio outside the Stevenson Union, then sorted through the pile to determine how much could be recycled. “We discovered that 75 percent of SOU’s trash is recyclable,” says Munoz.

That led Munoz and her classmates to create a comprehensive proposal based on a successful recycling program operated at the University of Oregon. The proposal included clear guidelines for sorting recyclables, a sorting facility and an administrative infrastructure to support the project. Funding came from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, SOU student fees, Ted Turner Foundation and the Ashland Food Co-op.

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