UC Berkeley My Last Trash

Credit: University of California

Balancing a tower of lightweight, reusable lunch containers at UC Berkeley.

Could your next piece of trash be your last?

Join the #MyLastTrash campaign and help UC meet its 2020 zero waste goal.
Credit: University of California

That’s the question the new University of California #MyLastTrash campaign is hoping you’ll ask yourself.

The University of California system is pushing to reach its goal of zero waste by 2020. That would mean a population of around 500,000 students, staff and faculty, plus countless visitors every year, sending next to nothing to the landfill. It’s not a small challenge, but UC has made big strides, already diverting 69 percent of its waste from landfill. As with many great challenges, however, the last mile is the hardest.

“Tackling waste is a win-win-win,” said UC Associate Director of Sustainability Hilary Bekmann. “It helps us meet the goals of UC’s Global Food Initiative, Carbon Neutrality Initiative and the 2020 zero waste goal all at the same time.”

UC has made progress on waste, but diversion rates have started to plateau at some campuses.

“What we need is a collective push to get us across the finish line,” said Bekmann.

To get that push, UC is turning to the campus community with a simple request: Take a pledge.

The #MyLastTrash pledge asks everyone in the UC system to take some easy steps to reduce waste and be more aware of their personal impact. Would you agree to reduce food waste by taking smaller portions and finishing your plate? Will you share food with friends and family before disposing of it in the compost? Can you cut packaging waste by buying in bulk and bringing your own bags and containers to stores?

If your answer is, “Yes, sign me up!” click right here to take the pledge now. Then think about inviting others to join you.

To really have an effect on campus waste, it will take more than one person taking a pledge — everybody needs to pitch in. To encourage you to help get the word out to others on campus, there’s a prize. If you share a photo on Twitter or Instagram with #MyLastTrash, you get a chance to win a pair of 100% reusable socks, in a fetching custom #MyLastTrash argyle. Who says reducing waste can’t be done in style?

Not just anyone will get a prize: You’ll need to get creative. Show us the ingenious way that you’ve reused something that would otherwise have ended up in the trash. Or organize a food swap and post a photo with #MyLastTrash. Into conceptual art? Try to capture the absence of garbage in a photo.

For those that are inspired to take this even further, UC is also offering mini-grants to support grassroots activities on campus. Teams and groups with creative ideas for engaging campus communities, raising awareness of the university’s zero waste goal, promoting waste reduction on campus and directly reducing campus waste are encouraged to apply for support. Applications are due by midnight on November 8, 2017, so you need to get cracking. You can find more information here.

If you need a little inspiration, take a page from Lauren Singer, who can fit all of her trash from the past four years in a single mason jar:

Going green does not need to be a sacrifice, either for us as individuals or for businesses, governments and the economy.
Credit: University of California/Vox