ZeroWaste Highlight: SIO sweeps coast

IMG_20170916_093149ON Saturday September 16th, in honor of California Coastal Cleanup Day, SIO hosted as a cleanup site and gathered a crew of 35 to collect trash along the coast using tools generously provided by landscaping. In this crew were representatives from SIO, of course (Rachel Labbe Bellas, Garrett Eaton, Natalie Freeman, Gwen Hennon, Emily Parker), but also from from EH&S (Kimberly O’Connell, Andrew Le) and UCSD Green Labs (Erika Daley). By the end of a mere 3 hours, they had a whopping 70 lb of trash and 25 lb of recycling debris, composed of (but not limited to):

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  • 1300 cigarette butts 
  • 335 food wrappers
  • 534 small plastic pieces
  • 93 plastic coffee stirrers
  • paints chips (strange) and dog poop

The significance of California Coastal Cleanup Day, besides inspiring people to move trash away from beachside wildlife and dispose of it correctly, is that it updates the Ocean Conservancy’s data for waste generated around oceans on an annual basis. Updating this database means updating their procedures for conservation, and cleaner, healthier, lovelier beaches for us♣

ZeroWaste Highlight: FM (Ellie’s ethereal gardens).

20706751_1644578962219383_1113328785_nIF you walk down the stairs of Cafe V’s patio, towards the green field, and turn right, you’ll see a pair of gray metal gates and a sign with a visible “E” peeping from behind. Walk through the gates and you find yourself in Ellie’s (Main) Garden, a rectangular plot of land lush with greenery. Keep going down the sidewalk and you’ll see more sets gates, which lead into Ellie’s Backyard, Ellie’s Farm, and (coming soon) Ellie’s Nursery.

The secret behind Ellie’s green thumb? Compost. In the photo lies but one pile of “hot” compost, where raw material gets turned and watered so that, within a mere 6 weeks, it transforms into usable compost, which is then screened and added to the soil beds.

Into this compost go kitchen scraps, paper, straw, plant trimmings, and (most of all) coffee grounds from Price Center’s Sunshine Market and Starbucks. During the summer, Chris Johnson, a groundskeeper with Facilities Management, rides in his electric golf cart and carries 9 buckets of grounds to the garden each week. Through the school year? 20 buckets a week. Whatever can’t fit into the bins gets sent to green waste and turned into mulch.

“I estimate that I picked up 7 tons of grounds last year. FM is trying to establish a green waste site, but I gather there is not enough money or urgency to create the large site that they propose. I will be offering the idea of starting very small, like a quarter acre to test the program on a doable scale.” – Chris Johnson

Furthermore, the gardens are made from a lot of scrap material – reused railing, wood, benches that were left behind from other projects on campus. The only necessary purchases are gravel and potting soil, as many of the plants actually grow from seeds and roots taken from other plants on campus. In that way, Ellie’s gardens have diverted more than just green waste from landfills, and have helped make up for the loss of plants (on campus) which were torn down and destroyed by wind and rainstorms.

Best of all, Ellie’s gardens are open to everyone! You can volunteer to help work on the plants (check out their Facebook page here), or simply indulge in the fruits that grow from its composted soil♣

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ZeroWaste Highlight: Recreation recycles wrappers.

WALK by the RIMAC and Main Gym weight rooms, Canyonview’s pool, Main Gym’s cycle room, or Rec Gym’s FitLife office, and sure enough you’ll find a box asking for your energy bar wrappers.

UC San Diego Recreation is currently partnered with Terracycle to recycle these wrappers, conveniently placing bins where people are most likely to have wrappers to discard. All of the money collected, at 2 cents per wrapper, is then donated; Recreation has already given $350 to Feeding America San Diego, and another $188.40 to other charities, totaling a whopping $538.40 for 26,920 successfully recycled wrappers.

More than just diverting waste from landfills, Recreation has essentially helped provide 1400 meals to families in need (Feeding America San Diego creates 4 meals per $1): an amazing, two-in-one impact. Look out for these boxes and recycle your wrappers♣


NEW! UC San Diego Green Labs Recycling Signage

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Learn more about UC San Diego Green Labs here.



NEW! UC San Diego Green Office Recycling Signage


Learn more about UC San Diego Green Office here.


Sports Facilities & ICA Host the First Zero Waste Basketball Game 


The goal for the zero waste event was to create excitement on campus about zero waste, that it is a goal for the campus to not send any trash to the landfill by the year 2020, and to collect data through the post-game trash audit to help identify a current baseline to create goals and strategies to get us to zero waste by 2020.  Volunteers served as Green Goalies to help attendees with proper waste disposal and also participated in a waste audit.

Specialty Recycling Bins located inside the Sustainability Resource Center

specialty bins

These items are recyclable, but can not be disposed of in single-stream and require a special collection. Items we collect include:

  • Plastic Bags
  • Packaging Materials (bubble wrap, packing peanuts, air cushions)
  • Energy Bar Wrappers
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Light Bulbs
  • Writing Instruments
  • Toner Cartridges

The Sustainability Resource Center is open during the academic quarters from 9AM-4:30PM.


The University of California has committed to sending zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Zero waste protects our environment, reduces greenhouse gases, promotes clean innovation and creates green jobs right here in California.

It’s not only an important goal, it’s doable. UC is already diverting 69 percent of our solid waste from landfills systemwide. We’re sending 26 percent less waste per person to landfills than other comparable universities.

We are running in the right direction, but the last mile is the hardest. To get all the way to zero waste, we need everyone to pitch in by not pitching out. Ask yourself: Could my next piece of trash be my last trash?

Refuse what you don’t need, reuse what you can, and recycle what you can’t.

My campus. My community. My planet. #MyLastTrash.

Visit UC Zero Waste for more information.