When Ari Moscone first received an email with the subject line, “A Zero Waste Campus is Possible”, many ideas came flooding into her head. "What if my university were to be a leading campus for a zero waste movement? What if our campus became zero waste? What if colleges across the country joined this movement?" The final question that came into her head was: "How could I help to make this happen?" She was skeptical, but was intrigued by this prospect, and decided to open the email rather than send it to her trash folder.
PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network is a nonprofit, cooperative network of student leaders who are taking the waste crisis into their own hands, and are creating zero waste solutions on their college campuses. In the spring semester of Ari's junior year, Alex Freid, the founder of PLAN, gave a presentation on how the university could move toward becoming a zero waste campus.
Ari Moscone attended the presentation, and was impressed by Alex’s passion for zero waste, his education strategies, and his unwavering faith that students are the ones who will pave the way to success for zero waste. She felt that he inspired everyone in the room to believe a zero waste campus was something feasible and attainable for any college campus. Immediately following the presentation, Ari knew she needed to be involved in this student movement towards a world without waste. She wanted to have the opportunity to educate others about our waste crisis, and collaborate with PLAN in some capacity to launch and expand programs on her college campus which focused on building a sustainable future.
This past summer, in partnership with PLAN, Ari served as one of the student coordinators for UMass Amherst’s first-ever reuse tag sale. The New2U tag sale consisted of a move-out collection during finals week, a full summer of hard work to clean, repair, sort, and price collected items which would have otherwise been thrown away by students, and finally, a tag sale to sell these items back to students at super affordable prices held during move-in weekend. The pilot program collected over 10,000 pounds of reusable items from one of seven on-campus residential areas, and the sale yielded profits that were far beyond expectations. Most of the items were sold within the first few hours of the two-day sale. Ari Moscone was completely overwhelmed and overjoyed to see all of her and her fellow students' hard work pay off.
"There is no better feeling in the world than knowing your hard work and dedication to change will make a lasting impact on your peers and your college campus for years to come; I can say that firsthand. The overwhelming positive response from New2U has prompted further expansion and development of the program for next year; I have the privilege of being a part of the team of empowered student leaders that will make this happen. Throughout this journey, I have learned invaluable lessons about leadership and organizing, made connections with key administration that make things happen on my campus, learned the organizational structure of my university, and, most importantly, experienced what it was like to plan and execute a successful campus-wide event that inspires students to be active participants in facilitating change for a more sustainable campus and future.
When Kumble Subbaswamy, Chancellor of UMass Amherst, visited during the tag sale, he came up to me, shook my hand, and exclaimed, “This is great! I don’t know why we haven’t done something like this before!” I responded with a simple “Me either”, a smile, and a shoulder shrug, thinking, Why haven’t we done this before? Why aren’t programs like this happening on every college campus? Of course, the answer may be easier said than done. There is much to consider when creating and developing waste reduction initiatives on college campuses, or anywhere, for that matter. However, with the proper tools, resources, support, and student leadership, making strides toward a zero-waste campus is possible.
My experiences have inspired me to create this project that will get conversation and inspiration flowing amongst student leaders who wish to see sustainable changes on their college campuses. I can’t say that I am an expert on all things zero waste, because all of these initiatives and programs are challenging, and are each unique to the colleges that take them on. However, I can say that I have worked hard and researched countless hours to create a compilation of resources students can utilize to kick start waste reduction efforts on their own campuses. It is my hope that sharing this information with everyone will provide guidance and spark interest in students to join the zero waste movement."