In an effort to teach students to manage their waste, Zero Waste Leaders will be attending upcoming events to teach students how to sort trash into the recycling, compost or landfill bins.
Leaders dressed in vests will stand near zero waste stations to help direct students. Volunteer coordinator and member of AmeriCorps Colleen Trostle trained the leaders prior to their first zero waste event. Currently, the position for zero waste coordinator is empty and will be filled by the end of January, but until then Trostle will be filling those shoes.
Trostle and the Zero Waste Leaders have given presentations to staff and groups who are interested in zero waste.
“My role currently is to educate students and faculty on zero waste … the biggest thing for zero waste is to educate people on what is recyclable, compostable and what goes to the landfill,” Trostle said.
Zero Waste Leaders were seen for the first time at the football game against Portland State Nov. 4. Their goal for the event was for 10 percent or less of waste to go to a landfill. In order for any event to be consider “zero waste,” 90 percent or more of the waste created must be composted or recycled. Clean up was done by Facilities rather than the Zero Waste Crew, making it unclear if they met the “zero waste” goal. However, Trostle felt it went very well.
“The attendees were very excited and interested in learning about the proper way to dispose of items and happy that we were making it zero waste,” Trostle said.
According to Sustainability Coordinator Kylee Singh, Cal Poly diverts 80 percent of its waste from a landfill.
“We often get bad press around not composting on campus, which is false,” Singh said. “All the clean compost material used from Campus Dining is composted.”
Though Cal Poly’s zero-waste efforts are ranked highly among universities, Singh wants to encourage students to make the percentage even higher.
“It’s the stuff we touch and see every day that we need to begin focusing on and diverting so we can move from an 80 to 100 percent diversion rate,” Singh said.
The goal of the newly organized leaders is to teach students which bin to use for their trash in order for the campus to
“Students play the biggest part in making Cal Poly a zero-waste campus,” Trostle said. “It’s very important for them to sort their trash and compostables so we can reach these goals.”
Though the tailgate was the first event where the Zero Waste Leaders were present, it is not the only event that coordinators have scheduled to go zero waste.
At Make a Difference Day Oct. 28 – an event where volunteers get assigned to help specific clubs — the waste produced at the zero waste event was two candy wrappers over the goal of 90 percent of the trash being composted or recycled.
Sustainability leaders believe it is essential for students to understand which bins to place their waste in, and therefore it is essential for Zero Waste Leaders such as civil engineering freshman Claire Anovick to teach them.
“I think as we become a society that has to focus on being sustainable and green, the best way for us to start those practices is for us to take action in what we do,” Anovick said. “So the best way to start zero waste is to start working on it now, rather than taking action later. And zero waste is one of the easiest ways to start being green.”
The leaders want students to focus on sustainability and make a positive impact not just on campus, but also on the planet.
“This would help the environment hugely, and these things go into the environment and have a trickle down effect and come back down to humans. The first tier is to reduce, second tier is to reuse and third tier is to recycle,” Trostle said. “The most important thing is for students to take the time to do all these things.”