Student Stories: Developing waste-reduction program in residence halls

April 05, 2012

Though most Penn State students were happy about the mild winter, three Environmental Resource Management majors in the College of Agricultural Sciences were not.

"We had some beautiful 50-degree days, and it shouldn't be like that in January," said Anna Puchkoff, a Staten Island, N.Y., native. "Global warming is a real thing, and we need to stop the Earth from heating up by recycling more and producing less waste."

Puchkoff, Tom Perry and Emily Bachner started a recycling initiative called "Green It Together," the goal of which is to reduce the amount of waste produced by students in resident halls. "We wanted a way to get involved and make an impact in helping our planet," said Perry, who hails from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The three students, with help from others, have been working hard to revamp the way residents recycle in the resident halls. "We are in Runkle Hall at the moment, but we hope if it goes well there, we can take it to East Halls next," said Bachner, of Pittsburgh.

Last fall semester, the environmental students developed a plan for the project and recently have started putting it into place. "We are trying to make recycling a no-brainer while students are in college," Puchkoff said. "If you develop a habit now, you are more likely to continue with it the rest of your life."

Perry agreed. "We want to put little caddies in each room that have spaces for compostable items and different recyclable items too," he said. "That way it will be easier for students to carry their items to the larger bins in the halls and already have everything sorted. Our goal is to get the waste that students produce down to about 5 percent."

According to Puchkoff , the students are passionate about what they are doing. "We want to make a long-term impact on our environment for the better," she said.

More information about the Environmental Resource Management major is available online.


  • Students participating in the Green it Together Initiative were (front) Anna Puchkoff, (middle row) Emily Bachner (left) and Sam Bohn, (back row, from left) Tom Perry, Isaac Moser and Dustin Betz.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 11, 2012