Don’t Throw Your Education Away: Compost it Instead

Imagine this. You’ve just had a delicious breakfast at Morrison. You filled your plate high with steaming  pancakes and berries, tater tots, and a couple of hard-boiled protein-packed eggs. You even went back to the dessert bar for a waffle, but ended up only eating half. Now, you’re walking to the dish drop with your fork, a couple of dirty napkins, crumbled egg shells and that oddly enticing half-waffle.

Cornell Students Engineer Trash Robots in New York City to Encourage Garbage Pick Up

Robots may be the solution to New York City’s trash problem. In fact, Cornell Tech Ph.D. candidate Frank Bu and his team engineered trash barrel robots — human controlled trash cans that pick up garbage — in New York City this summer in order to study how people interact with robots in public spaces and how this can be used to encourage trash pick up. 

He first worked on this project 11 years ago with his faculty advisor at Stanford University where he engineered a trash can on a rumba. After noticing a dire need for trash pickup in the city, Bu and his team contacted Village Alliance, a leading advocate for the Greenwich Village community, in Astor Place, NYC to launch this machine in a public space. 

It’s no secret that NYC has a waste problem. Streets can often be seen lined with trash bags full to the brim. According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the metropolitan region produces  14 million tons every year, much of which lands in landfills or incinerators, or pollutes sidewalks and waterways.

Plastic Film and Nasty Dumps: Can Cornell Live Up to Its Reputation of Sustainability?

I am a freshman in the School of Engineering and an international student. This last detail is important because from Aug. 17 to Aug. 31, I had to quarantine in my room, eating only the boxed meals provided by Cornell Dining. During, and well after my time in mandated quarantine, widespread complaints about two issues circulated: The overuse of single-use plastics and inadequate waste disposal.