The Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), an inter-campus association of students concerned about sustainability, is hosting the Beyond Waste Student Summits from February through March.
This comes after USD scored 37% overall on PLAN’s Zero Waste Atlas evaluation of sustainability, below the average score of 40 to 50% on college campuses.
Anna Moore, Campus Recycling Coordinator and member of the USD sustainability committee, said the summits will bring together students from campuses across the country with the goal of reducing waste. Each summit takes place in one afternoon, and involves designing a waste reduction campaign with the help of coaches from PLAN.
“Waste is a popular concern among USD students,” Moore said in an email interview. “We see trash cans filling up and custodians working hard to keep up.”
Berkley Fierro, president of USD’s Environmental Law Society, which is helping to recruit students to attend, said her group is particularly interested in the summit on plastic free campuses.
“We have an interest in helping the university move towards being a plastic-free campus,” Fierro said. “So this session is just one Saturday, it’s four hours, and it kind of teaches the students there how to organize a plastics-free initiative on their campus.”
Melissa Wyum, a health science major who has signed up to attend the summits, said she hopes the summits can promote sustainability changes on campus.
“So when I started coming to USD, like the first differences I noticed was specifically with the food and how there was no recycling on campus,” Wyum said. “And garnering students on campus, we can make changes to this.”
Wyum said students can get involved in sustainability by joining clubs including the environmental club and environmental law society.
“Do you want to help us make this huge change? We’d love to join you, and have you with us,” Wyum said.
Fierro said the summits will help to provide students with the organizational skills necessary to make sustainability campaigns successful.
“You can be as informed about environmental issues just from reading articles and stuff, but it won’t teach you the practical skills of starting a campaign, especially a campus campaign,” Fierro said.
While Moore said students on campus care about sustainability, and they can greatly reduce their personal waste, students will run into barriers they can’t change by themselves.
“Sustainability has broad support at USD, and you’ll notice that broad support isn’t enough to make changes,” Moore said.
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“If you want to help reduce waste on campus, a great start is to get connected with like minds.”
For students interested in getting involved, Moore said they should attend the summits, subscribe to updates on postlandfill.org, and to contact her to take part in sustainability committee work.
“Students want to do something to help, yet often don’t know how. Instead of feeling sad and powerless, we can learn skills and make plans at the summits to change things together,” Moore said.