Thanks to a partnership between Dining Services and the EcoReps program, the University of Rochester recently became a Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) member school. PLAN is a nonprofit organization that provides services to universities across the country to help them reduce their waste, with the ultimate goal of becoming a zero-waste campus. Students and staff at the University will now have access to a wide array of resources that come with a PLAN membership.
Part of the University’s membership includes access to environmental advising services, leadership certification trainings, program-specific workshops and discounts to various retailers including Patagonia. PLAN’s goal is to promote the zero-waste movement on campus, which means encouraging students, staff and faculty to make a conscious effort to avoid sending waste to landfills. One initiative is “Break Free From Plastic” which guides college campuses through the process of eliminating single-use disposable plastics from their operations. Striving for zero-waste also means cutting down all forms of waste production, and yes, this even includes cutting down on recyclable goods. As global recycling markets have caused stricter policies on what items are acceptable locally, it has served as a reminder that recycling does not eradicate waste. The best alternative is to avoid creating waste altogether through reuse, reduction, and elimination, something that PLAN is working with the University to achieve. Currently, the EcoReps program is working with the University’s PLAN advisor to create a waste audit, which will show the biggest contributors to waste on campus.
“Since this is PLAN’s pilot year at the University of Rochester, it is the EcoReps’ goal to bring green groups on campus together for a more unified approach to waste reduction,” says Rosemary Aviste (Class of 2020), a PLAN student ambassador. For those interested in integrating more zero-waste methods into their lifestyles, Rosemary advises “increasing positivity” around actions, and says “don’t beat yourself up” if you forget to bring a reusable mug with you one day. She encourages students to get involved by reaching out to a PLAN student ambassador like herself, joining an on-campus sustainability group like Grassroots, and using the abundant online resources that are available to every member school.
The resources available on www.postlandfill.org are available to anyone who has a University of Rochester email account. Create an account to access the full benefits offered to University members, by choosing the “register” option on the login page.
By Isabel Lieberman, Class of 2021