Hard Work (Not) Gone to Waste!

By Chloe Ney

This past week presented the Graduate Housing Team with incredible news: we are officially on track for piloting a food scrap and compostables collection program with Athens Services in the UA Hilgard Graduate Community. This great news was a result of a productive meeting we had with Jessica Aldrige of Athens, Emma Sorrel of Housing and Hospitality Services, as well as Jesse and Javier Ayala of UCLA Facilities. After providing Jessica with details about the layout of the various Grad Housing buildings and the types of living situations each building provides (studio or family/mixed-use apartments), we all decided that the Hilgard Apartments would be the ideal setting for our pilot. This was for a number of reasons but primarily because it qualified us for a grant provided by Global Green and EcoSafe. Working with Global Green provides us with the materials we need, such as signage and food waste receptacles, at no additional cost. Global Green will also help us run our own residential outreach and education campaigns about the food scrap collection program. Our team will execute these measures through co-hosting tabling events and partaking indoor-to-door signs-ups for receiving receptacles and attending educational workshops. In addition, EcoSafe will provide us with the necessary materials such as compostable bags and dispensers.

Later in the week we met in person with Jessica and Maddie to discuss the logistics of implementing the pilot program. We decided that it will be most effective to start outreach during week one of spring quarter, run an initial waste audit sometime around week two, and hopefully have the program take off by week three. We will then have a community assistant at Hilgard perform regular visual audits of the food-scrap bin numerous times a week to mitigate any immediate issues posed by collection (like smell and overflow). By week ten, we will have performed at least one more waste audit to analyze how effective the program was at diverting waste, which will determine whether or not the program will be expanded to the rest of the Graduate Community (fingers-crossed!).

We are so excited to be in the final stages for developing a sustainability program tailored to suit Graduate Housing’s unique design and needs, especially after all the challenges we were able to overcome this quarter. More importantly, we are proud to be part of a project that is likely to expand throughout the graduate housing community and provide continual benefits for many years to come!