Sustainability at USM

Tiny Trash Initiative

My Tiny Trash - A waste reduction initiative at the University of Southern Maine to reduce waste, increase recycling, and reduce costs.

Welcome to the Tiny Trash Waste Reduction Initiative at USM! We are working hard to increase recycling here at the University by implementing a new system for waste generated in offices. This initiative requires participation by all members of the USM community to be successful and will have a great environmental and economic impact.

Here's how it works:

Tiny Trash Initiative at the University of Southern Maine gives each staffer a personal small trashcan and reduces waste, reduces labor, and reduces bag costs

Staff and faculty will be issued a small desktop trash can in place of the larger desk side trash container. All non-recyclable items including food scraps can be placed directly in your personal Tiny Trash. All recyclable materials can be placed in your blue desk side recycling bin.

You will be responsible for emptying and cleaning your Tiny Trash and Recycling bins as needed. Each office or area will be provided with a large communal waste receptacle in which to empty your trash and recycling.

Why the change?

  • Deskside Recycling Container for office use at the University of Southern MaineMuch of the waste generated in offices and academic areas on campus is recyclable. USM is working to dramatically increase our recycling rate which in turn decreases the amount we spend to dispose of waste. By implementing the Tiny Trash initiative, we are asking USM employees to do their part to recycle more and throw away less.
  • Currently USM spends $3,150 a year on plastic trash bags for desk side waste cans. By using a Tiny Trash, you can help us decrease not only this purchasing cost but also the resource waste AND the hauling and tipping charges associated with use and disposal of plastic bags.
  • USM spends about 45 hours of custodial labor daily to visit and empty each desk side trash can across campus. Instead of spending time on this task, custodians will be able to focus on more important cleaning tasks and provide a better environment in which to work and learn.
  • Rise up and move around! The science of ergonomics tells us that we should take two to three micro-breaks an hour. These micro-breaks encourage proper blood circulation, reduce our chances of getting a musculoskeletal disorder, and make us feel better. So stand up and take a short empty your Tiny Trash!

What is considered trash?

  • Non-recyclable waste at USMNapkins, tissues & paper towels
  • Styrofoam: cups & packaging
  • Plastic wrap
  • Granola bar & candy bar wrappers
  • Plastic bags, trash bags & potato chip bags
  • Wax paper
  • Food Scraps

**Most other waste is recyclable!** Check our recycling page for all the details.


By participating in this initiative you are playing an important role here at USM and contributing to a more sustainable university. Help us be successful by doing your part and ecouraging your colleagues to do the same.

 Want to roll out Tiny Trash at your school or work? We've created a guide just for you! Read, Download or print it here: Guide to Establishing Tiny Trash: A Waste Reduction Initiative.