Couches. A light post. Human hair. Unidentifiable ooze that might have been vomit. Those were a few of the items littering the center of the College of Charleston campus Tuesday.
Students stepped around trash bags filled with Monday's garbage. Several covered their noses. Others tried not to gag as the aroma of old pizza and stale beer mixed with the scent of rotting cardboard and used bathroom products.
Students from the college's Alliance for Planet Earth dumped the waste there the night before in preparation for their trash audit.
"We all create a lot of solid waste, but where does it all go?" event organizer Fritz Stine said.
Trash collected from Dumpsters usually ends up in landfills, but some of the trash on display will be salvaged.
"Volunteers are going through it, bag by bag, looking for recyclables so we can reclaim them and give them back to the school," Stine said.
The group collected 301 pounds of plastic, 430 pounds of glass, 460 pounds of paper and 132 pounds of cans. Additionally, they collected 4,541 pounds of trash that couldn't be recycled.
The paper and cans can be sold for $775. Although recyclable, the plastic and glass can't be sold for profit.
The group used two moving trucks to transport the waste from about 20 Dumpsters to the center of campus.
"We didn't finish Dumpster diving until nearly 4 a.m.," Stine said.
To recruit volunteers, the group provided gloves and health waivers to people willing to wade through the trash.
"We brought it down here to show everyone how much bagged trash the college wastes in one day," Stine said. "We're putting it where people can see it so they know we're really responsible for a lot of waste."
Alessandra Castillo, president of the student group, said they have been doing trash audits on campus for several years, but this time they expanded the audit to include the entire campus.
She said the group advertised the event through the online community Facebook.com and through word-of-mouth. Several professors even offered extra credit to their students for participating.
Deborah Bidwell, a biology instructor at the college, got 70 of her students to volunteer by offering extra credit, she said.
But some students walking through campus Tuesday morning were unhappy to find the campus converted to a trash dump.
"The smell is disgusting," Mimi Levine said. "It's great that they're making a point, but I throw my trash out for a reason. I don't want to see it anymore."
And measures at the college to reduce waste are a step behind other local universities, said Matt Gregory, a member of the alliance.
"If you think this is hardcore or a little over the edge, this is nothing compared with other schools," Gregory said. "Even though it may seem like a hard task, if you just put the plastic in the plastic bin and the paper in the paper bin, you're doing a lot."
However, the college has taken steps to increase recycling participation on campus.
The college formed the Committee on Recycling and Environmental Responsibility in November 2001 to handle environmental issues concerning the campus community.
Total pounds of garbage 4,541
Pounds of unrecyclable trash 1,323 (23 percent)
Pounds of recyclable material