FARMINGTON — Archaeology students wearing safety gloves sorted through trash Wednesday to determine patterns of students living in dormitories at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Wednesday was the annual UMF Trash Day. Trash collected over a 24-hour period from the residence halls was piled on the Mantor Green on South Street. The day is sponsored by the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition, which was conducting its own project of trying to determine what percentage of the trash could have been recycled.
Instructor Luke Kellet led a different project with an “Introduction to Archeology” class on a modern day, archeology dig to review one square meter of the trash collected to examine life at college.
Paige Judkins, 18, of Buxton picked up a used paper towel with her gloved hands and held it up for Cassie Kittredge of New Hampshire to document on a chart she was holding. Both women are freshmen and living in Farmington.
Judkins picked item after item. Empty candy wrappers. An apple with one bite missing. Lots of used paper towels. Plastic bags. Cardboard containers that had held packages of Ramon noodles with plastic covering still over it. A half-full, plastic jar of Welch's Grape Jelly. A metal pull-tab container top.
Kittredge looked at an empty wrapper of Pop-Tarts that Judkins held up.
“I'm surprised we haven't seen more of those,” she said, just before Judkins pulled another one from the trash pile.
Another surprise to her was that they were not seeing empty bottles, Kittredge said.
“We've found a lot of plastic, a lot of paper and paper towels,” she said.
The pair, as well as other students in the class working on the extra-credit assignment, moved trash from one pile and placed it into piles of different categories.
“We don't have to recycle but it is recommended,” Kittredge said. “They have bins everywhere so it's pretty easy.”
Students will write a lab report on their findings on dorm life, consumption and disposal patterns, understanding diet and health, and how it can be improved.
Kellet said he saw a lot of food waste, a lot of processed food as he stopped to answer questions from UMF “Farmington Flyer” editor, Marcelle Hutchins, 22, a senior from Bar Harbor.
“There's a lot of paper towels, maybe I should start buying cloth towels,” Kittredge said, as the paper towel pile continued to grow. “I think it is just easier to have a paper towel to wipe it up than to wash it.”