The University of California’s #MyLastTrash campaign needs YOUR HELP to achieve Zero Waste by 2020!
Do your part by joining UCLA’s #MyLastTrash campaign and eliminating your own waste!

Monthly Campaign Themes:

  •  February: Recycling & Plastic
  •  March: Paper
  •  April: E-waste & Social Justice
  •  May: Green Labs/ Living Labs
  •  June: Move-Out
  •  September: Move-In
  •  October: Compost
  •  November: Re-Use and Upcycling
  •  December: Reduce

How can you eliminate your waste?

Step 1: REDUCE – Take only what you need (even freebies!). Choose items that can be recycled or composted.
Step 2: REUSE – Opt out of disposable products. Choose reusable bags, bottles, utensils, and much more.
Step 3: DIVERT – Sort your waste correctly. Most waste items are either recyclable or compostable.



For more information, please read the monthly campaign descriptions below or contact sustainability@ucla.edu.


February: Recycling and Plastic

Almost everything around us has a plastic component. Plastic is made of crude oil or other fossil fuels and is NOT biodegradable. Plastics can take 500 years to decompose, and when they finally do break down, they release toxic chemicals that contaminate the air, water, and soil. Our landfills and oceans are filling up with these plastic items. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of FIVE major gyres of marine debris in the oceans, which contain billions of tiny microplastics that harm marine life.

The best way to eliminate plastic waste is to refrain from using plastic as much as possible. If you have any plastic waste, dispose of it in the recycling bin. UCLA’s recycling bins accept all types of plastic, even plastic bags!

Tips

  •  Choose products with the least packaging. Choose paper packaging over plastic because it’s easier to recycle.
  •  Use reusable items as much as possible! These include grocery bags, water bottles, utensils, cups, tumblers, razors, and much more!
  •  Bring your own containers to buy food in bulk.
  •  Opt out of items such as straws, bottled drinks, individually packaged snacks, and even gum (which contains plastic!).
  •  Pack your lunch in reusable food storage containers instead of plastic baggies.
  •  When you eat out, bring your own food storage containers to take home your leftovers.
  •  When in doubt, recycle! If your item was sorted incorrectly, it will be taken out of the recycling.


March: Paper

When you dispose of paper products in the recycling bin, this waste is recycled to produce new paper products. Paper products made from recycled materials require less energy and water, and contribute to carbon sequestration by reducing the amount of carbon-capturing trees harvested. Recycling paper also saves landfill space and decreases the need for incineration.

Tips:

  •  Use a hand dryer when available. If necessary, use only one paper towel to dry your hands.
  •  Print double-sided as much as possible.
  •  Sort all clean paper into the recycling bin.
  •  Sort any soiled or greasy paper (including pizza boxes and other food containers) into the compost bin.


April: E-Waste and Social Justice

Environmental issues are an enormous part of social justice. For example, electronic waste produced in the United States and other wealthy countries is often exported to developing countries, where there are less stringent or nonexistent health and environmental laws. Workers processing this waste to extract precious metals often do not have adequate protection, and they can be exposed to toxic fumes that are harmful to their health. This combination of social justice issues (inequalities due to “exporting” human health impacts) and environmental concerns (improper handling and release of toxic waste) is often referred to as environmental justice.

Environmental justice issues are not limited to e-waste disposal, in fact, they are pervasive in many industries. Workers all over the world, including in the United States, have inadequate wages and work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions. Organizations and certifications such as the Fair Trade system work to address these issues by ensuring fair wages, good working conditions, sustainable practices, and more.

Other environmental justice issues include:
  •  Climate change, which is causing extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels that especially affect developing nations.
  •  Pollution, which disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.
  •  Learn more about environmental justice from the National Resources Defense Council.

Tips:

  •  Repair your electronics instead of purchasing new ones.
  •  Dispose of your electronic (and other hazardous) waste at the UCLA S.A.F.E. Center or other certified responsible recycling facilities.
  •  Dispose of your used batteries at e-waste collection sites at the Hedrick, Rieber, Sproul, and De Neve Front Desks.
  •  Choose products certified by Fair Trade USA or Fairtrade International.
  •  Volunteer with social justice organizations.


May: Green Labs/Living Labs

The University of California is a top research university, and sustainability has a place in laboratories too! While it’s important for labs to follow all safety protocols, there are still ways to minimize the amount of waste labs produce. Check out My Green Lab and the City of LA Green Business Program for more ideas and details!

If you don’t work in a lab, consider your household, office, or department. Encourage everyone around you to develop sustainable habits! Our day-to-day activities can make a huge impact in how much waste we produce.

Tips:

  •  Make a resolution with My Green Lab to bring sustainability to your scientific research.
  •  Register your lab, office, or department under the LA Green Business Program
  •  Use the Green Office Catalog to make sustainable purchases from BruinBuy.
  •  Use the Green Guide for tips on sustainable living.


June: Move-Out

College students accumulate a lot of things throughout the course of an academic year. Often, these items get thrown away and sent to a landfill, especially when students are unable to transport bulky items home for the summer. Reduce your waste by donating these items instead!

Tips:

  •  Before purchasing or obtaining an item, consider what you will do with it after the year is over.
  •  The orange Clothes Out bins accept donations of textiles, shoes, small appliances, and more.
  •  If you must throw something away, do some research and find out if it’s recyclable or compostable.
  •  As the end of the year approaches, pack in advance so you have time to sort your things.


September: Move-In

New students, welcome to UCLA! Returnees, welcome back! The new academic year is a fresh start toward Zero Waste. Consider how much waste you produce as you’re moving in.

Tips:

  •  Visit a local thrift store (like the UCLA Thrift Shop) to purchase used items instead of new.
  •  Purchase with sustainability in mind. Choose items that:
       •  are made from recycled content
       •  have minimal packaging
       •  are recyclable or compostable
  •  Communicate with your roommates to avoid purchasing duplicate items.


October: Compost

Composting is a way to break down organic matter to use as fertilizer and soil. When you toss something into the compost bin at UCLA, it gets sent to an industrial compost facility instead of a landfill. All the restaurants on the Hill dispose of their food waste in the compost. Learn more about the composting process here!

You can also set up your own compost bin. There are many composting guides and videos online that can help you get started.

Tips:

  •  Use this guide to sort your waste into the appropriate bins.
  •  Greasy or soiled paper (such as pizza boxes) are compostable.
  •  Look for waste-sorting signage that can help you decide where your trash goes.
  •  Read the packaging to determine if something is a plastic (recyclable) or a bioplastic (compostable).
  •  If your housing does not have a compost system, save your waste in a small container and bring it to a compost bin regularly.
  •  Dispose of your compostable waste in the bins throughout the Hill.
  •  Bring your food waste to the DIG garden on top of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

Symbols on compostable items:


November: Re-Use and Upcycling

December: Reduce

Reducing and reusing go hand-in-hand. For November and December, focus on the source of your waste! Disposable products not only take a lot of energy, water, and carbon emissions to produce, but they also result in an enormous amount of waste. You can also save a lot of money by purchasing a reusable product once instead of purchasing many disposable products.

Tips:

  •  Reduce unnecessary consumption and purchases, reduction is the most efficient and productive way to reduce your environmental impact.
  •  Consider purchasing needed items used at thrift stores, yard sales, resale websites, and Facebook groups.
  •  Seek reusable alternatives to single-use items such as grocery bags, water bottles, ziploc bags, etc.
  •  Avoid unnecessary upgrades for electronics such as phones, laptops, and desktop computers.
  •  Donate unwanted items that are usable or unconsumed.