UCSB Hosts Zero Waste Festival: On Tackling Community Consumption

Photo by Vicente Villasenor

Melanie Martinez

Science and Technology Co-Editor

On Feb. 24,  UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) hosted their annual Zero Waste Festival, during which many organizations, including Associated Students (AS) Recycling and the Environmental Affairs Board, gathered at the Isla Vista (I.V.) Community Center to present their efforts towards achieving zero waste. Students also participated in an art contest, in which they created pieces representing zero waste. 

Many students attended the Zero Waste Festival to learn more about how to achieve zero waste and to get to know the environmental groups here at UCSB. Students also received reusable cutlery, bike repairs, and free refills for Dr. Bronner’s, an all-in-one soap. 

UCSB is known for being environmentally conscious, and this was evident in the efforts made by the groups present at the festival. By recycling waste into clothing, students at UCSB are trying to break wasteful habits in order to better their lifestyles and reduce their environmental impacts. 

Lena Kellerman, a co-president of I.V. Trading Post, explained their efforts in achieving zero waste.

“We collect clothing donations around I.V., clothes that already exist, and we circulate them back into the community,” Kellerman told The Bottom Line.

During each school quarter, I.V. Trading Post takes donations during their events, which prioritize moving away from waste.

With consumption increasing yearly, there has been excessive waste created in many sectors, with fashion and food consumption being major areas of waste creation. Clothing production requires 79 billion cubic meters of water per year, while food accounts for 24 percent of waste in landfills

AS Recycling, who you may have seen biking on their collection routes, was in attendance teaching curious participants how to recycle properly. Recycling can be difficult for many people due to a lack of education. To close this education gap, many of the trash cans around campus have guidance posters that teach students to separate their trash. 

“We focus on diverting as much waste from landfills as possible, so we do that by hand sorting our waste and going through all of UCSB’s campus bins,” explained AS Recycling’s Outreach Coordinator Emily Franklin.

Events such as the Zero Waste Festival are a key type of outreach that empower students to make those changes in their lives. Some students have already been making those changes in their lifestyles. Environmental Affairs Board representative Elise Roberts described her personal changes, saying, “I reduced meat consumption [and used] other forms of transportation, but one thing that I started a few years ago was using reusable bags and produce bags.”

The Zero Waste Committee Co-Public Outreach Coordinator Caroline Bancroft urges students to make small, but important, changes in their lives.

Bancroft shared methods such as, “[Limiting] single-use plastics, bringing [your] own utensils, not getting extra plastic bags, or trying to eliminate red solo cups.” 

Red solo cups are a big issue in college communities such as I.V., as they are not recyclable and ultimately end up in landfills. 

UCSB’s goal of achieving zero waste is a commendable effort that the Zero Waste Festival highlighted effectively. Education outreach can help students become more comfortable with transitioning to more sustainable lifestyles. Achieving zero waste is an achievement that can be accomplished by anyone and can greatly benefit their lives and the environment around them. 


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