Student-Led Nonprofit Creates a Zero-Waste Campus Movement

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Post-Landfill Action Network, Trash 2 Treasure

Students at the University of New Hampshire collect landfill-bound reusable items at the end of the spring semester and then host a giant yard sale in the fall. Photo: Post-Landfill Action Network

When college students leave campus at the end of the academic year, plenty of reusable items like furniture, dishes and plastic shower caddies find their way into dumpsters. In 2010, a group of students at the University of New Hampshire decided to do something about this problem and started a program that collected this “waste” at the end of the semester, cleaned and sorted it over the summer and sold much of it at a giant yard sale in the fall.

This program, called Trash 2 Treasure, diverted over 100 tons of reusable items from the waste stream in its first three years and reached $30,000 in sales, making Trash 2 Treasure the first self-sustaining program of its kind in the country. The students also branched out and started other waste-reducing programs on campus like bike sharing and electronics waste recycling.

Now those students want to grow the reuse movement by extending programs like Trash 2 Treasure to other college campuses. To do so, they’ve set up a nonprofit called the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), which is headed up by Alex Freid, a recent graduate of UNH. PLAN is currently raising money through an Indiegogo campaign to help facilitate waste reduction on campuses nationwide and eventually make the idea of waste on campuses obsolete.

“Between the 2,100 colleges and universities across the country, million of tons of waste are landfilled each year, but we can and will solve this problem,” Freid says in PLAN’s Indiegogo video.

Post-Landfill Action Network, Trash 2 Treasure

Trash 2 Treasure collects lots of items like mugs, lamps, food storage containers and furniture, which are then sold during move-in week. Photo: Post-Landfill Action Network

PLAN intends to work with schools in three phases; by assisting those just starting out who need financial assistance to pay for trucks and storage space, by enabling those that have move-out waste reduction programs to improve and expand those programs and by helping established programs expand into other sustainable initiatives. The plan is for university groups to become members of PLAN so they can utilize the network’s services.

In addition to helping other student groups, money raised during the campaign will also be used for overhead expenses for the start-up, development and management of the new PLAN nonprofit.

“This organization is a win-win for everyone involved. We build student leadership around waste reduction initiatives that save students, parents and colleges money while also helping the environment and raising funds for future sustainable initiatives on campus,” Freid says.

To learn more and to support the Post-Landfill Action Network, visit their Indiegogo campaign page.

Homepage Image: Post-Landfill Action Network

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