Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fall Waste Report and How You Can Help

The school year is off to a great start for waste reduction at UCSC! The Sustainability Office's Zero Waste Team has been working with campus partners and student organizations like the Student Environmental Center to help UCSC reach its commitment of being a zero-waste campus by 2020. Zero Waste is defined as having 95%-100% of all waste from campus diverted from the landfill through reducing the use of disposable materials and repairing, reusing, recycling or composting everything else.

Learn how the Zero Waste team has helped to make our zero-waste goal a reality at student move in, OPERS fall fest, and through a new reusable dishware program.

Fall 2012 Move-In
Each year freshmen and many returning students move into on-campus dorms and apartments, bringing with them thousands of pounds of waste. To insure that recyclable materials ended up in the right waste stream, the ZWT set up “cardboard corals” during move-in week at each college so students and parents could easily sort their waste into cardboard, Styrofoam blocks, Styrofoam peanuts, plastic film, and mixed recyclables. This year at move-in we collected:
  • 42,500 pounds of cardboard, the equivalent of 357 trees! 
  • 600 pounds of Styrofoam blocks that will be donated to a company that makes surfboard blanks (learn more about that company here)
  • 21,380 pounds of mixed recycles (aluminum cans, plastic/glass bottles, paper)
  • 300 pounds of plastic film; think about how light plastic film is, and how much must make up 300 pounds worth of it!
That's almost 65,000 pounds of recyclable material that was diverted from the landfill during move-in this year!


OPERS Fall Festival
Working with the recycling crew and OPERS staff, the ZWT set up and monitored four zero waste stations around this campus-wide event. Volunteers, or "trash-talkers," helped advise attendees about which bin their waste belonged in, helping keep our streams as pure as possible and educating students and festival-goers about what sustainability and zero waste looks like at UC Santa Cruz. We call this event "zero waste" because we greatly reduce the waste that goes to the landfill to a minimum. Making OPERS Fest zero waste is an ongoing process that also involves educating attendees about how to sort their own waste, and next year the campus will aim for even higher rates of "zero waste." 

For the first time, all waste was weighed and recorded, and these numbers will give the campus a starting point from which we can watch our waste reduce toward zero:
  • 1,755 pounds compost (that's about how much a typical giraffe weighs!)
  • 181.5 pounds recycling
  • 167.5 pounds cardboard recycling
  • 197.5 pounds trash

Slugware
Think about how much energy, water, time and money it takes to manufacture a disposable plate. To have it promptly disposed into the trash can after you eat from it for 10 minutes doesn’t seem very worth it. To change this, the Zero Waste Team piloted a project last year called “slugware,” an act of replacing disposable dishware with re-usable dishware at UCSC events. This would save tons of waste from entering the landfill and would also save the school plenty of money. As of now, the Ethnic Resource Center has slugware available for their events and College 8/Oakes and Crown/Merrill dining halls are participating in the washing of slugware. It is the goal for this year to expand slugware to other organizations and have the participation of all five dining halls. If we succeed, just imagine all the resources we're saving!

And here’s how you can help with campus waste reduction:

Food Recovery Challenge: Take only the food that you will eat in the dining halls, at campus vendors and events. Join us in our goal to reduce food waste by 5% by the end of this year and learn more about this goal here.

Compost: All dining halls and cafes run by dining compost your food scraps and to-go containers. Every month 50 tons of waste is diverted from the landfill from composting, so don’t forget to compost!

BYOM: Bring your own mug to campus!  Every year, students use tens of thousands of paper cups that go straight to the landfill.  Between 2010-2012 caf├ęs on campus used 568,000 paper cups, 413,500 lids and 266,100 cup sleeves.  That’s a lot of trash! But we can change these figures:  If you bring your own mug to any coffee shop on campus you will receive a discount. The Perk Coffee Bars even have a Bring Your Own Mug Coffee Card that give you a FREE drink when you bring a mug seven times!

Reduce Paper Towel Waste: Check out information here about our pilot project with Path to a Greener Stevenson to eliminate paper towels in the restrooms at Stevenson College. Paper towels are a huge part of our waste stream and simple changes like eliminating paper towels from the residence halls can go a long way in reducing our waste!

Apply to be a Student Sustainability Advisor: Student Sustainability Advisors will be working with students, staff and the UCSC community to advise and educate students on sustainability. Plus you get $1500 towards housing each quarter! Check the UCSC Career Center Employment Request System for more info in the next few weeks.

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