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Students Get Their Hands Dirty In Zero-waste Push

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students spent two days sorting, categorizing and weighing trash in October as part of a campus-wide audit. The university’s second waste audit in almost 20 years is designed to provide valuable data to empower better decision making and holistic procurement and disposal practices.

“The big picture is we’re hoping to move the UH System towards this idea of zero waste and zero waste is a concept that rejects the idea of trash,” said Nicole Chatterson, student sustainability coordinator.

“The UH System has to move to net-zero energy production by 2035, which means if we’re using a little bit of electricity to dry our hands, instead of paper towels, we’re actually going to be generating that electricity from renewable sources on campus instead of cutting down trees to make 21 tons of paper towel waste a year,” she added.

The big picture is we’re hoping to move the UH System towards this idea of zero waste and zero waste is a concept that rejects the idea of trash.
—Nicole Chatterson

UH Mānoa student and Office of Sustainability waste reduction fellow Navin Tagore-Erwin said, “This is basically the first step in reducing campus waste is to find out what we’re actually throwing out. This kind of provides the groundwork for what we can specifically look at in terms of waste reduction and better management practices in terms of disposal.”

The audit is expected to be completed by the end of the fall semester. This audit protocol will be shared as a template for other UH campuses to consider in order to assist in reducing the systemwide waste footprint.

Students sorting through many bags of trash

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I am so happy to be attending a university that shares the same values as me. As I have started to embark on a zero-waste lifestyle, I find that little changes are a huge deal. Using a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest steps. Using mason jars and shopping where bulk is available is another great switch. Creating your own paper towels using old rags or cut up clothing is a great way to eliminate paper towels. I also have found a sense of pride and accomplishment when I shop at a local farmer’s market with produce bags (I use laundry bags) and let them know I don’t need any plastic packaging. Shopping is always purposeful and it is so easy to carry a reusable bag in your backpack, purse, or car. In the future I am looking to make my own products (laundry detergent, household cleaners, etc.) and order compostable items. It would be really nice if UH Manoa could implement compost bins around the dorms, apartments, and even food court.

  2. I love that they’re getting into zero-waste, however on the same coin, all of these students are wearing disposable gloves. Single-use items, such as disposable gloves, aren’t zero-waste. I get there is a sanitary issue, so I would try using gloves that can just be washed and used over and over again. Keep up the good work! :)

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