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Various items that have been thrown in campus recycling bins sit on display at OU Campus Recycling's facility at The Ridges on what workers refer to as the "wall of fame" on Aug. 29. (ALEX DRIEHAUS | DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY)

Student waste leads to weird and wonderful creations at Campus Recycling

In a humid, airless facility tucked behind the The Ridges, forgotten memories can be found.

Used textbooks, bobbleheads, little league trophies and cameras sit delicately on a far shelf. The “Hall of Cool Things,” Campus Recycling and Zero-Waste Manager Andrew Ladd calls it.

A swirling art project that once was displayed on campus hangs above as decor and gives the stuffy storage facility life — especially on this sticky Athens summer day, when standing outside is almost unbearable.

Ladd and Campus Recycling collect the forgotten relics to give them a second life after OU students leave them behind.

“It’s very eye opening, more so in terms of the sure volume of stuff that we get through here," Alexa Smith, a senior studying journalism who works at Campus Recycling, said. “And how everything still does have a lot of value, but someone, somewhere, thought it was completely worthless.”

Campus Recycling, which has a staff of about 20 students, collects an array of recycled items and gives back to the Athens community.

For example, one local Athenian uses the boards and wooden planks from Campus Recycling to make chicken coops at their home, Ladd said.

He said a fiberglass molded horse head with a velvet cape — the oddest recycled item he’s seen in his three years at Campus Recycling — was used for a local arts nonprofit, Honey for the Heart, which organizes an annual parade before the Halloween Block party.

He added that Campus Recycling works with art students by allowing them to reuse electric wires, batteries or even those rare items found on the “Hall of Cool Things” for projects.

Other items that cannot be used by Campus Recycling are sent to Athens-Hocking Recycling Center to be turned into other reusable items.

“I see (recycling) as essential,” Ladd said. “Our local community, and greater society, can not continue on an endless consumer path. We live in a world, in a nation, in a region of Ohio, that has limited resources.”

According to their official statement on the OU website, Campus Recycling hopes to “recycle 80% of the waste generated at Ohio University.” There are 4,000 recycling units in residence halls with 16,000 bins and 350 recycling bins in apartments and containers in every academic building and space, according to the statement.

Ladd added that Campus Recycling will work closely with Ohio Athletics and tailgates to help maintain a clean Peden Stadium and campus.

They will also attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest cardboard structure at this year's PawPaw Festival, building a “Chateau de Cardboard”, or a french manor house of cardboard.

“It's amazing to see what you don’t see on the other end of the project,” Christian Thanasoulis, a freshman who works at Campus Recycling, said of the recycling process. “And people here are amazing to work with.”


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