Author: Aryn T

Aryn Aiken is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Environmental Studies with minors in Math and French. When she’s not in class or working at the Office of Sustainability, you’ll find her digging through trash with Return Recycling or tie dying with EarthMatters.

Small Step, Big Impact: Reflecting on Zero Waste Week


In preparing for Zero Waste Week, my colleagues and I in the Office of Sustainability had many conversations about how to hold “zero waste” events. What food should we buy? Should we rely on everyone to bring their own plates, cups, and cutlery or provide compostable options? But, we also confronted bigger problems, like how to communicate the global waste crisis without making the Zero Waste Challenge seem pointless. How can we be honest about the complexity and vastness of an issue like waste while inspiring our peers to take action in their own lives? After the election, tackling the feelings of hopelessness and searching for ways to act and do something that matters became the focus of our kickoff event. However, every issue we cared about was suddenly on the table. So if we have to fight for everything, why worry about waste? How can we actually make a difference? I was so grateful to have Prof. Cassandra Thiel with us to talk about how specific industries like health care can make valuable, tangible reductions in their waste streams and how they’ve already started. At the end of the event, I signed up for the Zero Waste Challenge and in doing so, pledged to carry all the waste I would produce throughout the week. Inspired by Prof. Thiel and the group discussion, I felt an incredible sense of hope, and I knew I would carry that with me throughout the week as well. Read more