This year, Sustainability Action Research’s Graduate Housing Team has set out to accomplish a variety of ambitious goals in a branch of UCLA housing that hasn’t traditionally been associated with progressive environmental policies. As the newest SAR team and with the additional challenge of few previous attempts to address issues of sustainability in Graduate Housing, the team was faced with the lack of a clear and obvious direction for their project. The team members spent the majority of the first several weeks of the program familiarizing themselves with University Apartments policies and practices and meeting with various UCLA employees to understand what might be a feasible and effective use of the team’s short two quarters of the SAR program. Eventually, the team found an opportunity to implement a zero-waste program to reduce landfill waste and educate graduate students on responsible recycling and composting habits. After getting in touch with representatives from Athens Waste Services and several non-profit organizations specializing in zero-waste, the team quickly turned this idea into a reality. They successfully coordinated an ambitious pilot program that would provide each resident in the two Graduate Housing complexes on Hilgard Avenue with a recycling, compost, and landfill bin, along with a description of the program and clear directions on how to sort waste. The Graduate Housing team has conducted a full waste audit for each building to collect data on the habits of residents in order to establish a baseline to which the progress of the zero-waste pilot program will be compared through subsequent audits. The team recognizes that if UCLA is to reach its goal of “Zero Waste by 2020,” much progress must be made immediately and that UCLA cannot afford to disregard Graduate Housing in the process. The team intends to use the positive feedback from students along with data on the progress of the program to advocate for its expansion to the rest of Graduate Housing, and eventually to Undergraduate Housing as well.
Stakeholder: Daisy Oliver
Leaders: Christopher Hunter and Mark Biedlingmaier
Members: Chloe Valerie Ney, Chiara Phillips, Elias Platte Bermeo, Sarah Paset