Zero Waste Initiative – University of California Office of the President

The University of California has established the Zero Waste Initiative as a way to work toward reducing, and ultimately eliminating, plastic consumption and waste on all UC campuses. Policy Goals for the Zero Waste Initiative include:

  • Campuses will achieve zero waste (defined as 90% diversion from landfill).
  • Campuses will reduce per capita municipal solid waste generation to 25% below fiscal year 2015-16 levels by 2025, and 50% below fiscal year 2015-16 levels by 2030.
  • The University is committed to the reduction and elimination of single-use items such as plastic bags, single-use plastic foodware accessory items and single-use plastic beverage bottles.
  • By 2020, the University will prohibit the sale, procurement and distribution of packaging foam.

Each UC campus has a plan. Your campus can too.

In 1997, prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher Charles Moore discovered the world’s largest collection of floating trash—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (“GPGP”)—while sailing from Hawaii to California. Moore was shocked by the level of pollution that he saw. And in the last 20 years, it’s only gotten worse—a 2018 study has found that the vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific Ocean is now bigger than France, Germany, and Spain combined—far larger than previously feared.

In Plastic Ocean, Moore recounts his ominous findings and unveils the secret life of plastics. From milk jugs and abandoned fishing gear to polymer molecules small enough to penetrate human skin and be unknowingly inhaled, plastic is now suspected of contributing to a host of ailments, including infertility, autism, thyroid dysfunction, and certain cancers. An urgent call to action, Plastic Ocean’s sobering revelations have been embraced by activists, concerned parents, and anyone alarmed by the deadly impact and implications of this man-made environmental catastrophe.

Plastic-free activist Beth Terry shares her journey learning to live a plastic-free life in Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. The book is filled with personal anecdotes, environmental stats, individual solutions and tips on how to limit your plastic footprint. Terry includes handy checklists and tables for easy reference, ways to get involved in larger community actions, and profiles of individuals—Plastic-Free Heroes—who have gone beyond personal solutions to create change on a larger scale.

In her eye-opening and engaging book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, journalist Susan Freinkel treks through history, science, and the global economy to assess the real impact of plastic in our lives, describing the crisis point we’ve reached. She tells her story through eight familiar plastic objects: the comb, chair, Frisbee, IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle, and credit card. Each one illuminates a different facet of our synthetic world, and together they give us a new way of thinking about a substance that has become the defining medium — and metaphor — of our age.

In Garbology, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Humes investigates the trail of 102 tons of trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way, he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ immense Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists in residence at San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

Out of sight, out of mind? Into our trash cans go dead batteries, dirty diapers, bygone burritos, broken toys, tattered socks, eight-track cassettes, scratched CDs, banana peels…. But where do these things go next? In a country that consumes and then casts off more and more, what actually happens to the things we throw away?

In Garbage Land, acclaimed science writer Elizabeth Royte leads us on the wild adventure that begins once our trash hits the bottom of the can. Along the way, we meet an odor chemist who explains why trash smells so bad. This book is a brilliant exploration into the soiled heart of the American trash can.