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Student Creates Recycling Program for Off-Campus Housing

Undergraduate Victoria Kinley is the perfect example of a social science student who sees a problem or challenge in the world and sets out to find a solution.

When she moved off campus this year, Kinley noticed that her apartment complex had no recycling.

“Recycling was a norm at home, and I thought that in 2018 everyone recycled,” she said. “I thought maybe my apartment complex didn't have it because it was older. I assumed all the newer complexes offered recycling. Turns out only three of the 46 off-campus student apartments do.”

With a bit of research she discovered that apartment complexes get fined by the city when students, either through carelessness or lack of awareness, throw anything at hand into the bins and contaminate them. So complexes decide to eliminate the option altogether.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of students who want to recycle properly. For those people – and for the environment and cleanliness of the community – Kinley created a new phone app called Green House.

Green House will offer valet recycling services to students living in off-campus student apartments. Through the app, students can hit a button when their recycling bag is full and another student will come pick it up. Think of it as the Uber of recycling.

Students will also gain incentives to recycle through a point system: The more a student recycles, the more points they will get. Those points will then be redeemable through partner companies for free or discounted food, beverages and other needs.

The app will also include an education tool allowing students to search which common household items can and cannot be recycled.

As an interdisciplinary social science major, Kinley has a good basis for tackling a problem like this.

“I have always believed that entrepreneurship is the solution to almost all of the world's problems, so I started brainstorming on this issue,” she said. “The courses I’ve taken in my major have given me the tools and mindset to think not only in one discipline but in many. That's how I was able to combine social entrepreneurship, environmental science, policy and marketing to create this initiative.”

Kinley has worked on this project on her own since first conceiving the app in February 2018, but after presenting it to two introductory environmental science classes, she was contacted by several students interested in working with her. In this next phase of Green House development, Kinley will be recruiting more interns and working on securing partnerships and revenue streams. As for the future, she can envision the service going beyond the FSU community.

“Environmental consciousness in student housing is an issue that goes beyond just Tallahassee,” she said. “I would really like to get into every student apartment complex surrounding every university in Florida and then scale nationally. I hope this app and service will educate and create a habit for students to be green later into adulthood as well.”