Some people go from “zero to hero,” but according to a new University program, those words actually mean the same thing.
UT Resource Recovery and UT Farm Stand held the first Zero Waste Hero workshop on Monday as part of the new Zero Waste Hero certification program. The certificate’s purpose is to train sustainability leaders on campus who can educate others on the benefits of going zero waste, which an effort to send as little material as possible to a landfill, said McKenzie Beverage, senior zero waste program coordinator with Resource Recovery.
“In order to address the continuing issue of contamination on a large scale, we wanted to create a positive and rewarding way to learn about these issues,” Beverage said.
At the workshop, students, staff and faculty members learned the best way to recycle and compost materials in the Austin area and how to educate their peers on going zero waste.
“Students can learn about the requirements for the certification, all the details about zero waste and how to communicate effectively,” said Mimi Tran, team leader for education and outreach at the Campus Environmental Center.
In addition to attending the workshop, participants must log 10 “action hours” to complete the program. Five of these hours are “audit hours,” which are spent gaining hands-on experience with recycling and composting. The other five hours are “outreach hours,” which are spent raising awareness about zero waste.
“Action hours are there to help reinforce skillsets that we learn (at the workshop),” said Lindsey Hutchison, zero waste program coordinator with Resource Recovery.
Once a participant earns the certification, they can begin educating others and be a resource to people with questions about going zero waste, said Tran, a human development and family sciences senior.
“This program is a more intensive training for people who want to be ambassadors for zero waste and help educate and reach everyone on campus,” Beverage said. “It creates ripples of education through the campus community.”
Beverage said the Zero Waste Hero program can be helpful in working toward UT’s goal of becoming a Zero Waste Campus by 2020.
“There’s a lot involved in achieving such a lofty goal,” Beverage said. “Education is something that is constantly needed in achieving zero waste, and being creative with education on campus is something we are always striving for.”
Resource Recovery plans for the next workshop to take place April 30.