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Nat Bush ’19: Students for Zero Waste
Nat Bush ’19 is the co-president of the Green Campus Club at Trinity College, part of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. We asked Nat to be a guest blogger and write about their experience attending the Students for Zero Waste Conference at the University of Pennsylvania. Check out Nat’s guest blog below.
Last weekend, myself and other student representatives from the Green Campus club attended the Students for Zero Waste conference at the University of Pennsylvania. This conference, provided by PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) is an annual two-day conference hosted at a different campus each year on the East Coast.
They provide students with dozens of workshops that teach them how to incorporate a zero waste lifestyle into their personal, school, and professional life. In addition, the conference itself is zero waste, meaning that no trash is produced for the duration of the weekend. Students are encouraged to bring their own silverware, Tupperware, dish cloth, and other products that normally would be tossed out.
This conference was absolutely transformative for me. I went to the conference 2 years ago as well, when it was at University of New Hampshire, but at the time I wasn’t aware enough of how I could implement zero waste efforts into the Trinity campus community. Now that I’ve had 3 years of experience with Green Campus, EROS, and my other involvements at Trinity, I’ve been able to take the lessons provided at the conference and compare them with how I’ve run things on campus. For example, one workshop taught me how to prevent burnout and inspire club members to maintain their involvement in the club. It is easy to get caught up in your own responsibilities as a president or other leading position in a club, and therefore get burnt out and lose interest in continuing your involvement. In order to fix this, the workshop taught us it’s necessary to include each and every club member, to tell them how they matter to you, why you appreciate having them in the club, and providing them with meaningful work that will reassure them that their membership matters.
Another workshop was run by three costume designers who make their clothing from discarded fabrics. In a capitalist society we are accustomed to throwing away things we no longer want, and we don’t see where our waste goes. We put it into a trash can and often don’t see the other side, where the waste gets incinerated or sent to a landfill. Clothes that just have a hole or two in them can still be worn for many years, and even if they’re ripped to the point of being unwearable, it’s possible to repurpose them. One woman leading the workshop gave an example of a beautiful dress she bought in the 1970s that she then turned into a skirt. The fashion industry is incredibly wasteful, so there are plenty of opportunities for repurposing the fabric they use into new and unique designs.
I highly encourage that students at Trinity continue to attend this conference. Even if it’s just a few representatives, they can document what they learned and bring it back to their clubs on campus to make Trinity a more sustainable and active community.
Green Campus is committed to fostering respect for the environment and implementing sustainable practices on Trinity’s campus and throughout the Hartford community. Be sure to follow Green Campus on their new Instagram account @tcgreencampus.
Special thanks to Nat Bush ’19 and other Green Campus student reps!