Think Outside the Landfill

The countdown to zero waste starts with thinking outside the landfill

Reducing waste generation and properly sorting trash is the key. Waste bins distributed across campus utilize an easy-to-follow three-stream system to curb environmental damage by redirecting garbage out of landfills. Learn more about waste sorting on our FAQs page or download helpful resources and signage.

For this effort to succeed, the University’s zero waste initiative does not stop at recycling and composting. Bruins can also support the effort by following the Single-Use Plastics Policy, avoiding single-use items, and repurposing items typically tossed when possible.

Rethinking where rubbish ends up is not just about protecting the environment — it concerns people as well. Landfills are often located in lower socioeconomic areas, with waste potentially close to homes. One person’s trash can be harmful to another, making zero waste a social justice issue.

Why should you get involved? Reducing and efficiently managing our waste is one of the ways we can reduce our environmental footprints. We can get closer to our zero waste goals as a community by using lower-waste alternatives and changing our habits. Each of us has the power to make a difference in our everyday lives!

Take the TOTL Challenge!

The Think Outside the Landfill (TOTL) Challenge has ended. Thank you to everyone who participated! Please keep an eye out in the future where we bring back this multi-week challenge aiming to introduce ways Bruins can live and work sustainably and spread sustainable habits throughout our community. It’s up to us to Think Outside the Landfill by reducing waste and increasing landfill diversion.

Stay in the know – Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop of upcoming events and receive tips

Past Challenges – Spring Quarter 2022

  • Week 2 (April 3 – 9): Waste Awareness Week – Prizes: UCLA Store Gift Card, Beeswax Wraps
  • Week 3 (April 10 – 16): Action & Advocacy – Prize: Bite Toothpaste Gift Set
  • Week 4 (April 17 – 23): Earth Week – Prize: Zero Waste Mega Starter Pack

Week 2 Challenge – Waste Awareness Week

  • Refill your personal hygiene products at the refill event hosted by Good Clothes, Good People (Monday and Wednesday, 11 – 3pm at Bruin Plaza)
  • Stop by Bruin Plaza and write your thoughts on what Zero Waste means to you at our table and get some zero waste giveaways! (Tuesday, 11:30 – 1:30pm at Bruin Plaza)
  • Participate in the Clothing Swap at Sunset Village Plaza on Friday from 12 – 4pm. We encourage you to bring clothing with you but you’re welcome to take items provided by Good Clothes, Good People, Unravel, RefineLA, and Zero Waste UCLA!
  • Have a conversation about zero waste with a friend or family member
  • Do an at-home waste audit. Join Renewable Energy Association on Thursday via Instagram to learn how!
  • Listen to a podcast about zero waste (check some podcast ideas here!) 
  • Read an article about zero waste
  • Follow zerowasteucla, sustainucla, intersectionalenvironmentalist, Climate Action Lab, or another sustainability account Instagram
  • Share zerowasteucla, sustainucla, or other sustainability Instagram post on your Instagram story
  • Check out a UCLA sustainability student organization.
  • Read an article about Senate Bill 1383 and how it will impact your community

Week 3 Challenge – Action & Advocacy

  • Learn who are your Congress representatives 
  • Write or send a pre-written letter to your representative on a sustainable policy. Learn more about CA waste policies from Californians Against Waste 
  • Complete a personal waste audit and share your results and thoughts
  • Check out our FAQs to learn more about how waste is managed on and off-campus
  • Reshare informational posts/articles about zero waste
  • Sign a petition that supports sustainability and zero waste. Learn more about local efforts from Reusable LA
  • Follow Environmentalists of Color Collective at UCLA on Instagram
  • Follow E3’s Project TEAL(Trainings for Environmental Activists & Leaders) on Instagram
  • Go to the Environmentalists of Color Collective at UCLA event on 4/12 from 5-8pm at the Fowler Museum (
  • Visit our table on Thursday from 1 – 3pm at Bruin Plaza to leave your thoughts on how to take action on campus

Week 4 Challenge – Earth Week

  • Attend Unravel’s clothing swap on Monday (4/18) in Royce 162 @ 6pm
  • Attend Environmentalists of Color’s “Water Warriors” documentary film screening: Tuesday (4/19) in Young Hall CS50 @ 6:15pm
  • Attend E3’s annual Earth Day Fair on Friday (4/22) from 1-4pm at Dickson Court North/ the Sunken Gardens
  • Come to Zero Waste Ambassadors’ refillery on Friday (4/22) from 1-4pm at Dickson Court North, open to all! Bring your own container and get shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, laundry detergent, body wash, hand sanitizer, and more refilled!
  • Take digital notes instead paper notes
  • Turn off and unplug electronic appliances (computer, lamp, TV, etc.) when you’re not using them
  • Wash your clothes with cold water
  • Learn more and read about the history of Earth Day 
  • Take public transportation, walk, bike, or carpool instead of driving solo
  • Calculate your carbon footprint 
  • Be vegetarian for a day! Don’t eat meat for one day of the week.
  • Tell us below how you invest in our planet

Past Challenges – Winter Quarter 2022

  • Week 7 (February 14 – 18): Food – Prizes: BPlate Cookbook, Trader Joe’s Gift Cards
  • Week 8 (February 21 – 25): Household – Prizes: Bamboo Toilet Paper, Bamboo Utensil Kits, Collapsible Food Containers, RefilleryLA Gift Cards
  • Week 9 (February 28 – March 4): Fashion – Prizes: Official UCLA Apparel
  • Week 10 (March 7 – 11): Self Care – Prizes: Reusable Boba Straws

Week 7 Challenge – Food

  • Start collecting compost at home and find out where you can dispose of it here.
  • Utilize the compost bins on campus
  • Used reusable grocery and/or produce bags
  • Make a recipe from the EatWell Pod and UCLA Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative Cookbook 
  • Used a reusable coffee cup
  • Cook a low waste meal. Check out our Zero Waste Kitchen Companion for tips and tricks!
  • Used reusable utensils when ordering takeout
  • Refused utensils/napkins you didn’t need
  • Visit the UCLA Farmers’ Market (Wednesday, February 16th from 2-6pm in Bruin Plaza)
  • Ate a vegan/vegetarian meal
  • Avoid plastic-wrapped products
  • Brought food from home instead of getting take-out
  • Bought food items in bulk/package-free
  • Check out the UCLA Teaching Kitchen’s cooking workshops and recipes

Week 8 Challenge – Household

  • Make a DIY cleaning solution with ingredients and a container you already have
  • Use a reusable cloth instead of paper towels
  • Attend an E3 meeting (Boelter 5252 6-7pm)
  • Follow E3 on Instagram (and their other accounts)
  • Switch out a commonly used disposable for something reusable (ex: swap out bottled water with a Brita Filter and reusable bottle)
  • Transition to reusable batteries
  • Reuse something deemed “single-use” over and over (ex: a plastic food container from take-out or a plastic bag)
  • Unsubscribe from junk mail and catalogs
  • Go paperless for bank statements
  • Identify where you can buy household items/furniture second-hand 
  • Join a buy-nothing community online
  • Shop local instead of online to reduce packaging waste
  • Find a piece of clothing/cloth at home and use it as a rag (makeup remover, etc)
  • Grow your own herbs
  • Propagate green onions or chives, or other propagatable plants 
  • Switch out dryer sheets for dryer balls
  • Switching body wash/soap to bar soap
  • Switch to toothpaste tablets or toothpaste in metal recyclable tube
  • Switch to a refillable floss
  • Refill your personal hygiene products at Good Clothes Good People (Student Activities Center Basement (SCUBA) 54, open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm), at your local refillery, or at our pop-up event on March 4th (location to be announced)!

Week 9 Challenge – Fashion

  • Buy clothes second-hand instead of new
  • Donate old clothes to Good Clothes Good People or Goodwill
  • Attend Unravel’s Event 
  • Set up or attend a swap night/Buy Nothing Program for clothing, furniture, accessories, appliances, tools, etc. 
  • Repair a clothing item to get more wear out of it
  • Conduct an inventory of your wardrobe to see what items you already have
  • Borrow clothes from a friend
  • Rent clothes for an event instead of buying new
  • Care for clothes as per the care label
  • Investigate a company’s production practices before buying
  • Upcycle an item of clothing in your wardrobe

Week 10 Challenge – Self Care

  • Visit the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden (get directions here!)
  • Register here and volunteer for Spring Quarter at the botanical Garden!
  • Have a picnic by Tongva Steps or your favorite spot on campus
  • Water your houseplants/garden
  • Propagate a succulent or plant your favorite plant
  • Go for a walk or hike (look into the Bruin Backpacking Club!)
  • Take a picture of a pretty scene on campus or in your neighborhood
  • Relax in the Sculpture Garden or at your favorite spot
  • Use your favorite reusable cup at a coffee/tea shop or make your own beverage at home
  • Take a low-waste snack break
  • Practice mindfulness or start a workout
  • Upcycle your scratch paper or notes into origami (link some simple guides here)
  • Send us a picture of you hanging out with your pet (studies show our fluffy/furry/scaly friends lower stress levels)