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A community partnership with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh promises to reap big rewards for the environment.

Oshkosh-based 4imprint has stepped up to assist an initiative intended to increase recycling while keeping plastic bags out of dumpsters on campus. The idea for using reusable totes was generated at a recent Residence Life staff meeting.

“I thought this was a great idea, and I approached 4imprint about the kinds of options they had,” said Brad Spanbauer, campus sustainability officer. “After working with 4imprint to get the artwork on the bags, I was absolutely amazed and grateful when they offered to donate the bags to campus at no cost.”

It was a tremendous gesture, he said.

“We chose to support this cause because we believe in helping out the community,” said Erika Ferguson, social media marketing manager with 4imprint. “This year, we have really focused on our community outreach program. When Brad (Spanbauer) told us about the recycling program, we loved the idea and wanted to help and see it succeed.”

Ferguson said leaders at 4imprint love the idea of using recyclable bags and hope it encourages students to recycle and learn the proper ways of recycling.

“In my opinion, when first arriving to our residence halls, a student’s recycling habits and/or commitment to recycling are heavily influenced by their living experience prior to arriving on campus,” said Lori Develice Collins, associate director with Residence Life. “Once on campus, I have found there are matters that influence continuing or changing behaviors: application of sustainability-related information (consumed and discussed in the classroom) and/or peer influence.”

Recycling bag distributed to residence halls.

She said the new recycling program addresses the need to eliminate plastic bags in the recycling dumpsters and makes recycling convenient without plastic bags.

Racine native, Alyssa Wastradowski, a Residence Life student employee who worked on the project, said she believes the bags will make recycling in the residence halls easy and efficient.

“In the past years, we have seen a lack of not only proper recycling, but also recycling in general,” she said. “By using a canvas bag rather than a bin, students have the ability to recycle on their way to class by simply putting the empty tote in their backpack when done disposing of their items. Before, they needed to set aside time to take the bin out, empty it, bring it back to the room, then go on their way.”

Wastradowski, a senior majoring in sociology and a member of the Honors College, said coffee cups (whether for hot or cold drinks), milk containers, clean pizza boxes, and empty toiletry bottles are some common recyclable items that aren’t being recycled.

Titan TV published a how-to video to ensure everyone is recycling the right way.


Putting plastic bags in their place

Plastic bags are recyclable, but only in special collection and recycling programs.

Trex company uses recycled plastic film to make sturdy outdoor furniture and boards for decking. UW Oshkosh participates in collection of plastic bags/film for Trex in cardboard boxes placed in buildings around campus.

Plastic bags are not accepted in residential recycling bins in Winnebago and adjacent counties—they tangle in machinery that sorts the materials for processing.

Spanbauer noted bags should be disposed in the boxes around the UW Oshkosh campus and those located at many retail locations, including Target, Pick n Save and Festival Foods.

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