ECGO: Earth Week Recycling Challenge

Zilkha Center Zero Waste Intern Stella Dunham is running a campaign to help the Williams community learn how to properly sort their waste. Read the interview below to hear Stella’s thoughts on the rollout of this new program!


1.What is the ECGO: Earth Week Recycling Challenge?

 ECGO is a mobile app that helps college communities learn about recycling and waste management policies at their schools by offering point incentives that are redeemable at popular brands. Through the app, people take photos of their waste, locate the closest bin to dispose of their item, and win points based on their submissions. The Earth Month Challenge is an April 2024 program in which over 10 American colleges and universities, including Williams, compete for highest recycling and composting stats per capita. Data received from ECGO users at Williams will be compared to that of other institutions, and, at the end of the month, the top three schools which showed the most effective recycling and composting will be announced!

2. Why is it important? Why did you think Williams should participate?

I thought that bringing the Earth Month Challenge to Williams would be an engaging way for our campus community to be made aware of the school’s waste disposal practices and integrate them into their personal lives. Consistently using the right bins can be difficult: sometimes it’s hard to match an item to its proper bin, other times accessibility issues arise, but I’m hoping that using the ECGO app will make students, faculty, and staff more individually concerned with getting their waste to the proper place every time.

3. What have you learned while leading this initiative?

 A big part of launching ECGO on campus has been taking inventory and tracking all of the different types of bins on campus. Something surprising I’ve learned from this project is that not all waste/recycling/compost bins have set, public, accessible locations. For certain items, like fuel canisters, used DVDs, and old thermometers, there are faculty and staff contacts that community members can reach out to in order to properly dispose of them. These and other hard-to-recycle materials will have designated bins in the Class of 1966 Environmental Center during the Earth Month Challenge, but it’s been very cool getting to investigate how Williams, despite its small size, has adapted to offer pretty niche waste disposal systems, even if it’s through services that are rarely advertised. [Editor’s note – you can learn how to recycle hard-to-recycle materials here!]

4. What are you hoping the impact will be?  What can individuals do to get involved?

I’m hoping that, by the end of the month, students, faculty, and staff will get better familiarized with Williams’ waste disposal policies. I also hope that getting rewarded for recycling and composting during the Earth Month Challenge will create a campus norm that encourages the Williams community to participate in consistent proper waste disposal without the reward incentive. 


Want to join the challenge? With the snap of a picture, ECGO will tell you where and how to dispose of your waste on campus while rewarding you with gift cards and discounts to Walmart, Target, Dunkin’, and more! Competition runs April 1-30th.

ECGO is a mobile app that uses AI to educate and reward Williams College students, faculty, and staff for recycling and composting on campus during the month of April. Download the app now! (link must be clicked on a mobile device to download the app)