In an effort to educate more University of Minnesota students about the importance of “zero waste,” the undergraduate student government is beginning to train student groups in making their events sustainable.
Later this month, the Minnesota Student Association will test-run a training session in order to teach fellow students about how to hold zero waste events and recycle organically around campus. MSA’s Sustainability Committee Director Megan Connor said she hopes this encourages students to lessen their daily enviornmental impact. However, some students have concerns about the cost of providing sustainable materials for events.
For an event to be considered zero waste, at least 90 percent of waste created by the event must be diverted from being put into a landfill, according to the University’s Facilities Management.
The University is always looking to help students think more intentionally about where their waste is going, according to University Sustainability Director Shane Stennes. Holding zero waste events will help the University increase the amount of organics it recycles, he said.
Marcus Johnson-Luther, the Black Student Union's marketing public relations chair, said BSU is interested in zero-waste training.
“We’re kinda killing the earth right now, and if we could help reduce that BSU would be very interested,” Johnson-Luther said.
Although many think holding zero waste events is important, some are concerned about the cost.
“Zero waste training is very important,” said Vice President of the American Indian Student Cultural Center Charles Golding. “The foreseeable problem [of] doing events is mostly a funding thing because compostables tend to be more expensive.”
MSA plans to combat that concern by encouraging student groups to apply for a University sponsorship that includes up to $250 to cover the cost of catering. Students need to apply a minimum of two to three months ahead of their event.
MSA’s sustainability comittee continues to push for zero waste events despite its failed attempts in the past. In 2018, MSA fell short of its goal to make Spring Jam zero waste.
Currently, about 40 percent of the University’s waste is recycled or composted, and organics recycling has been going on for “quite some time,” Stennes said.
Depending on the success of this training and the feedback from students who participate, MSA said it hopes to develop in-depth training with more student groups as the year continues.