Black Hawk College students took a deep dive into trash today.

They wore protective aprons, and gloves before tearing into dozens of garbage bags. It wasn’t a clean exercise.

Students picked through old plates, plates and bottles to salvage recyclable material separated into one of a dozen marked bins. There were about 30 bags to dive into.

Every five years the college is required by the State of Illinois to identify the kinds of waste being generated, and how much of it is recyclable material.

Organizers of the event say it provides a visual representation of what is actually being disposed to help students realize their actions do have an impact.

“We got offered extra credit in one of my classes to come and sort trash for at least an hour. Other people who I am here with are also in that same class. So it definitely helps get people to do something that they may otherwise not do. You can see a lot about the trash people throw away. You become a bit more aware of what’s happening when you see the trash cans over there and everywhere. You see that there’s a lot of trash over there that you could probably put some where else,” says William Vanvooren, student at BHC.

The results of the waste sort will help the college expand and enhance it’s recycling programs.