Env 220 Internship
Materials Exchange = A unique opportunity for the community and businesses to reduce their waste production while providing low-cost method of exchanging unneeded, reusable household items, building materials, appliances, etc. It allows monetary benefits to those who sell unwanted items, as well as to those who buy used items. In addition, it aids in the decrease in total waste disposal, which is an increasing problem within the nation. Indirectly, it forces people to become conscious of their personal waste production, and gives an alternative to waste disposal.
Objective = To familiarize myself with the website www.2good2toss.com and be able to facilitate stimulation of that site. I should focus first on the Whitman College campus and then start spreading it to the community. Bottom line my objective is to get the website populated and functioning. My main goal of this semester was to advertise to Whitman College .
Experience = My experience for the first part of the semester was somewhat empty. This is probably due to the dryness of the tasks that I performed in the first half. What I did is connect myself electronically with the website www.2good2toss.com to become an administrator. It was helpful to be able to maneuver within the website. I also integrated into the bigger i-wastenot network that oversees this site. It turned out that I did not even use this i-wastenot connection.
The problem that I faced is that this program used to be the called the Walla Walla Materials Exchange, which two interns before me helped to get established. Between the time that Oak stopped and I started, the program has been greatly renovated. It is now completely online at a different website ( www.2good2toss.com ). I had to try and promote an old program, that didn't get very populated in the first place, by a new name. It is set up for all of Washington state so I must utilize it for a rural agricultural based community as well as a college campus.
What my advisors directed me to do is focus on the Whitman campus. That is what I focused on this semester. I created a poster, a table-topper, mail box stuffer, and e-mails to try and inundate the campus with this resource. I created the advertising on campus and then shared them with my advisors, revised them and then supplied them to my advisor to make copies. I believe that the poster was rather effective, just due to their presence. Table-toppers worked fairly well for the day or two that they stayed up. Mail-box stuffers, as annoying as they are, I still believe aided in just making the campaign a presence on campus. E-mails I believe were very effective. I had the most responses to these. One wrote me saying how awesome they thought the site was, in addition to many people coming up to me commenting on the site. I did have one person e-mail me back annoyed that I had sent out a second round of e-mails. That is the only negative response I received.
Reflections = I was rather frustrated in the beginning par of the semester. Some of this is due to the pain it took to get set up within the site and get my foundations there. I felt like I had to cut through too much red tape to get to the good stuff. As stated above, one only needs to become an administrator on the site to function, a position on the i-wastenot panel in not necessary.
I would say that most of the work I did was exploratory, not knowing exactly what would happen, not knowing exactly what would come out of it. Now that I have figured this site out, and set a foundation, the next intern to take this project will have an easier task at populating the site. A lot of what I got out of the project is what I put into it, and honestly I did not put as much into it as I should have. I could have done a much more thorough job of advertising to the campus. In addition, if I had more forsight I could have populated it more throughout the community.
My advisors were very helpful and provided guidance when needed, but for the most part they allowed me to do my own thing, along as I checked in once and awhile. I wish I had thought more about the entire project at the beginning rather than just following the minimal planning my advisors gave me at the start. In the end this would have given me a much more credible experience with this internship.
Present and Future = As of right now the site has actually grown throughout the semester, somewhat due to my efforts. The user list has grown, including some Whitman students, and there went from 5 items advertised to over twenty being advertised currently. It is obviously increasing and hopefully through word of mouth it will take off. With this type of growth with minimal advertising on the Whitman campus and basically zero advertising in the community shows that this site has major potential.
I believe the focus of this site should switch gears from the Whitman student body to the Whitman faculty and staff and onto the greater Walla Walla community. This, I believe should be the ultimate end of the program. It would be a lot more effective going into the community to help promote this service. Students don't necessary need this extensive of a network in which to exchange items. The greater Walla Walla community, however, needs this network to help reduce waste and increase reuse of perfectly good “waste.” Like they say, “one man's trash is another's treasure.” I would strongly recommend that the next intern on this project to focus almost solely on the community, faculty and staff with an occasional e-mail to campus, and posters on campus, but all other efforts be directed to incorporating the community. Looking back at what Oak Rankin tried to do would aid in this process. 2good2toss.com is a good resource that just needs help being discovered to the people it serves.
Pacific NW National Laboratory
Walla Wall County Reg waste planning Dept.
527-3282 / SJohnson@co.walla-walla.wa.us