UC Berkeley community hosts events for ‘Zero Waste October’

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Daniela Cervantes/File

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UC Berkeley Facilities Services is hosting “Zero Waste October,” a series of events aimed at “celebrating, highlighting and achieving zero waste,” according to its website.

Michelle La, zero waste specialist for Cal Zero Waste, said in an email that Zero Waste October allows members of the campus community to engage in the zero-waste movement. La added that UC Berkeley Facilities Services chose October because it is close to the holiday season.

“The purpose of Zero Waste October is to highlight the importance of the campus community efforts to reach the UC zero waste by 2020 goal,” La said in an email. “We have kicked off a number of our zero waste educational programs this month to begin educating and promoting zero waste holidays where a lot of waste is usually generated.”

La said in an email that Cal Zero Waste has received “a lot of support in the past year” in terms of infrastructure and staffing, as students from the ASUC and campus Vice Chancellor of Administration Marc Fisher have been in full support in trying to meet the zero waste by 2020 goal.

According to La, UC Berkeley is at a 54 percent diversion rate, referring to the rate at which material is diverted from landfills through reusing, composting or recycling, as of July 2018. In the next three years, La said the campus hopes to provide more recycling and composting infrastructure. La added that the campus has reduced the amount of materials sent to landfills by 42 percent in the past 10 years.

Several community organizations are hosting their own Zero Waste October events.

Cal Athletics, for example, has partnered with Cal Zero Waste, according to La. Pac-12 Team Green hosts a competition during football and basketball seasons in which Pac-12 campuses compete with each other to achieve the least waste at one home game per season. La said this year, Cal Athletics and Cal Zero Waste selected the Oct. 27 football game against the University of Washington.

“Cal Athletics has partnered with Cal Zero Waste to support, educate, and reward Cal our fans who are part of our campus zero waste efforts,” La said in an email.

Cal Zero Waste will host a Free ReUSE Day on Oct. 19, in which the group will give away items for free. According to La, Free ReUSE days have saved more than 10,300 pounds of material from landfills. On Oct. 26, ReUSE at UC Berkeley will host an event on Memorial Glade in which it will provide shirts and teach students how to repurpose them into tote bags to prevent them from going to landfills, according to Serena Hughes, the president of ReUSE at UC Berkeley.

“We’re really excited that zero waste is becoming a recognized effort on campus and in the community,” said Nicole Haynes, a member of the California Public Interest Research Group, commonly known as CALPIRG, in an email. “The average person doesn’t think about their consumption and waste daily, so creating a zero waste month is a great method of reminding people it’s important and that small actions add up.”

Contact Lauren Good at [email protected].