College Quest students perform WWU waste audit

Maddy Mixter
University Communications intern
Friday, July 20, 2012 - 10:42am

A group of high school students dove into garbage cans at Western Washington University Thursday morning. With gloves on, College Quest participants sorted through, and discussed, what exactly is being thrown away.

About 10 students performed the garbage audit, digging through barrels of waste picked up around campus. The audit was being done to see what kind of things are being thrown away, and if more can be diverted from waste.

Katie Fleming, the leader of the audit, said that what they find can be educational for everyone on campus. The results can make people hyper aware of what they're throwing away.

Fleming, an education coordinator for RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and an instructor at Western's Huxley College of the Environment, teaches the "Local Perspectives on Environmental Science and Sustainability" through College Quest.

Joelle Lo, a participant who is going to high school in Canada, said she enjoyed the audit because she is interested in environmental science. She said that College Quest was a chance to see what it was like to go to school at Western.

Every year, College Quest provides a comprehensive university experience for college-bound high school students, allowing them to explore educational, personal and career goals. The program is put on by Western's Youth Programs.

Overall, the audit found many plastic bottles, which can be recycled, and many compostable items in the garbage cans. Lo said she found an excess of coffee cups waste, but the grossest thing she found was banana peels.

College Quest will continue through Friday, July 20.

For more information about this audit, contact Katie Fleming at


High school students participating in College Quest conduct an audit of campus garbage Thursday, July 19, outside of Carver gym on campus. The audit requires garbage to be sorted and weighed by hand. Garbage included banana peels, coffee cups, napkins and