The goal for the Adopt 3 Bins project is to provide our community with waste sorting materials in order to educate them on proper waste sorting habits. Originally, the plan for the Adopt 3 Bins project was to promote participation through our sign up via Google form. The families would have 2 waste bins delivered to their homes where they would complete a bi-weekly survey for our data collection. For our farmer’s markets, Earth Team interns created an educational game where participants sorted different waste products into the 3 bins using balls and buckets. On 2 Saturday mornings in the fall of 2022, interns volunteered to organize a farmers market booth to advertise the Adopt 3 Bins project with our game and encouraged families to sign up on our Google form.
We reevaluated most of our project in the second semester based on demand. During our farmer’s markets, we promoted our project instead by giving away free compost and recycling bins to interested people. Along with the free bins, we gave informational pamphlets that included waste sorting visuals and a QR code linking to our simplified Google form survey. This new strategy attracted many people to participate. We received an overwhelming amount of interested people from our farmer’s market booth. We found that a lot of people interacting with us spoke different languages. With the help of our multilingual interns, we were able to communicate our project to others. This did result in lower survey responses as we didn’t have the form in multiple languages.
At the end of the allotted project time we received 23 responses to our survey that participants completed after reading the informational pamphlet. The questions that were asked included rating their knowledge of recycling and compost both before and after participating in the Adopt 3 Bins project. Compared to before reading the pamphlet, confidence in waste sorting knowledge of 16 people went from under 5 to all participants rating their knowledge above a five (10 is considered mastery and 1 is considered incompetent). It was also found that the most common recycled material was cardboard and paper, the most common compost material being food waste, and the most common trash bin contaminant was recyclable plastic. A majority of participants reported that their most common mistake was not bundling their plastic bags together. Over 82% of participants ended the survey feeling motivated to sort their compost and recycling routinely. 82% of participants ended the survey feeling that their waste sorting habits have improved.
Overall, the project was successful in our goal of encouraging more people in our community to develop better sorting habits. We would consider changing the pamphlets and surveys to have multiple languages to increase accessibility for non-English speakers. Another potential improvement would be promoting our project in different locations other than farmers markets because that influenced our data demographic.