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WHAT IS ZERO WASTE? Zero waste is an initiative that strives to reduce and eventually eliminate trash sent to landfills and incinerators. Progress begins on the individual level by becoming aware of the waste one produces and taking steps to minimize oneĘźs impact, which over time will influence local communities and their ability to support a more sustainable Earth. The majority of the waste we generate can be reduced, reused, repurposed, recycled, or composted. With smart investments and planning, we can simultaneously save money and the environment. So, what can we as members of the USD community do to help? It starts with integrating minimilization concepts into our everyday lives. Something that every one of us does as a part of the USD community is host and/or attend events. While each event has its own purpose, we all can support the purpose of creating a more sustainable environment. When we strive for zero waste, we also strive for a healthier environment and a safer world for future generations to come. Our greatest asset is each other. We need to hold each other accountable and set an example for all current and future Toreros.


WHY IS ZERO WASTE IMPORTANT? The earth is our home and must be cared for as such. It is what sustains our lives, and in return, we should protect it. Landfills are extremely harmful because they generate toxic substances that leak into the surrounding area, and produce millions of metric tons of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. Burning our trash emits even more harmful pollutants into our environment. The best way to minimize these consequences is by creating less waste that needs to be disposed of by first reducing what we use, then reusing or repurposing what we can, and then recycling or composting. If the rest of the world consumed resources at the rate that the US consumes them, we would need the resources of five earths. We only have one, therefore it is everyoneĘźs responsibility to protect our planet so that we can pass it on to future generations. We can do that by being more mindful of the way we live our lives. Every member of the USD community can create change. If we embrace and encourage this mindset within our community, we can make a long-lasting impact on campus, and contribute to the improvement of the global environment.



USDʼs goal, as stated in the Climate Action Plan, is to increase projected solid waste diversion to 60% by 2020 and 75% by 2035.


The call for dialogue by Pope Francis in Laudato si始 is a moral and spiritual challenge for all of humanity to join in solidarity in the Care for Our Common Home. In this integral ecology, the world始s complex problems derive from interconnected human and environmental dimensions. At the same time, respect for human dignity is inextricable from care for the natural world and reminds us that we have a responsibility to the poor and marginalized, who are most vulnerable. Laudato si始 brings urgency and contemporary relevance to the broader mission of Catholic higher education in the 21st century, and the University of San Diego is uniquely equipped to respond to this challenge. Although waste is a small part of USD始s overall footprint (3%), it is the most visible and tangible area for students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University. To begin working towards our goal of zero waste, each individual at USD can evaluate their day to day consumption, research little things they can incorporate into their routines, and discover the resources we have on campus to help (i.e. compost bins, ink cartridge refills, etc.). There is no better way to communicate our commitment to sustainability than with a robust zero waste program that shows intentionality in our consumption. With the San Diego Miramar Landfill close to reaching capacity, limiting waste generation from USD is essential to decreasing environmental impact. 3% OF 2015 BASELINE EMISSIONS CAME FROM WASTE GENERATION Purchased Electricity

9,288 MT CO2e

Student & Employee Commuting

8,080 MT CO2e

Air Travel

4,339 MT CO2e

Campus Fleet Fuel Combustion

4,088 MT CO2e

Solid Waste Generation

618 MT CO2e

Water Consumption

269 MT CO2e

Wastewater Generation

27 MT CO2e

Solid Waste Generation 3%



Venue and Transportation When choosing a location to host an event, first consider the options you have for venues, and prioritize ones that have experience with zero waste events or those that are more environmentally friendly. Be sure to inquire about whether the venue has trash bins, recycle bins, compost bins, or any other materials you may desire. Make sure to inform the venue that you are hosting a zero waste event so that they can work with you to produce less waste. Before choosing a venue, consider the accessibility of the venue. An ideal venue would be close to public transit stops and offer both bicycle and vehicle parking. Holding an on campus event means that the venue is walking distance for most students, staff and faculty, so this is a great option. After the site is chosen, be sure to encourage attendees to commute sustainably. Sustainable travel options include walking, biking, carpooling, taking public transportation, or driving an electric vehicle.

Waste Collection Monitoring and reducing waste is essential to the success of hosting a zero waste event. Make sure that you have both trash and recycling receptacles at your event, and a compost bin if it is applicable. Label bins well so attendees know where to put their waste. To help guide guests, you can request that the Office of Sustainability provide a Trash Talker to attend your event who will assist and educate guests about the waste produced (see Resources p. 14). To avoid waste altogether, gravitate towards reusable products as opposed to products that are recyclable or that go to landfills. Beware of looking for a solution with products (such as plates and cups) labeled “compostable�. As we do not have a means of composting such products on-campus, such items will still wind up in the landfill.


Materials While planning your event, think about the materials required for your event to succeed. Create an inventory of all the items you will need, indicate what you already have, and what you still need to acquire, as well as what the venue may be able to provide, or what you may be able to borrow from other USD departments. In order to reduce waste at your event, try to use materials that can be reused again at a later time to avoid any materials that will end up in the landfill. Some examples of this include using cloth tablecloths and napkins or swapping single-use items for reusable ones. USD catering charges $3.50/person to provide cloth napkins, glassware, flatware, and china for events.

Food If the event you are planning will be catered or have food, there a few more obstacles to keep in mind. Food can generate a lot of unnecessary waste because it often comes in packaging and requires plates and utensils. If you are going to have food at your event, opt for chinaware, silverware, and glasses (rather than their disposable counterparts). It is important to use RSVPs to have an accurate estimate of the number of attendees to avoid buying excess food. Also consider local caterers that have committed to sustainable food practices (see Resources p. 14 for more information on how to get compost bins and a list of green caterers).


TIPS AND TRICKS Marketing: • • •

Market your event online, through e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.- this is a great way to save paper. Advertise your event as a zero waste event, highlighting the sustainable features of it. Ask the Office of Sustainability to help promote your event.

Venue: • • •

Host the event on campus if possible. This saves money and travel time for attendees. Check with the venue beforehand to make sure they can provide trash and recycling bins. Encourage carpooling, bicycling, or using public transit to get to the event.

Food/Catering: • • • • • • • • •


Use vendors that commit to being sustainable (e.g. they use recylable or compostable food trays, utensils, etc.; their ingredients are organic and locally sourced; etc.). Consider a plant-based or primarily plant-based menu. See Resources (p.14) for a list of sustainable restaurants. To minimize leftovers, order only the amount of food you anticipate will be eaten. Bring reusable containers to pack up any leftovers. Recycle any food packaging that is recyclable. Rinse out excess food waste before recylcing containers. Provide compost bins with clear signage. Encourage attendees to bring their own water bottles or cups. Provide a refillable water station.

EVENT CHECKLIST Before the event: Secure venue. Secure sustainable food vendor(s) if applicable. Have reusable containers ready for leftovers. Obtain trash, recycling, and compost bins; including signage. If you will have compost, contact the Office of Sustainability (see Resources for contact info) ~2 weeks before your event to arrange for Trash Talkers and disposal of food scraps. The office can also provide signage for each disposal bin. Advertise your event as a zero waste event and try not to print flyers for marketing. Use social media platforms, digital screens, and other electronic advertising methods instead. Encourage alternative forms of transportation to the event (carpooling, biking, mass transit, walking, etc.).

During the event: Annouce that it is a zero waste event. Make sure the recycling, compost, and waste bins are well- labeled and accessible, and that attendees know where they are located. Introduce the Trash Talkers - let attendees know who they are, what they are doing, and why. Limit the amount of sinlge-use items utilized during the event.

After the event: Let attendees take home leftover food. Take your compost to the SLP food digester for disposal or arrange this with the Office of Sustainability. Recycle all items that are recyclable. Use eco-friendly cleaning products. 11

WASTE SEPARATION Correctly separating waste generated at your event is an extremely important factor in reducing the amount of waste that will go to the landfill. Below are some helpful tips to guide both event planners and attendees with how to correctly dispose of various items.





C O M P O S T 13


Catering Options:

Excess Food Donation Locations:

Obtaining compost bins:

• Off campus: Bring extra trash bags and ask the venue to provide an extra trash bin. If they canʼt provide an extra bin, use your trash bags as compost bags. • On campus: Contact the Office of Sustainability

Trash Talkers: Office of Sustainability


Profile for usdsustain

Zero Waste Event Guide  

Zero Waste Event Guide