Jacob Foushee and Lily Stewart are two University of Louisville students whose focus is on the bottom.
As zero waste interns with the Sustainability Council, Jacob and Lily are helping formulate new ways the university can lessen its trash. UofL is already making strides in recycling and composting as ways to keep trash out of landfills, but the students are participating in a summer program that will help find other ways to cut down.
They have become fellows with the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), a nonprofit organization that trains students in zero waste initiatives. It is providing training called “Atlas” to help analyze how much trash UofL produces and how much it may be able to avoid. The fellowship came with a free three-month membership in PLAN for anyone affiliated with UofL.
From now until the end of September, UofL students, faculty and staff looking to reduce waste for a single event, a club or even an entire department have access to the PLAN resources for advice.
“We are really excited to be working with the Post-Landfill Action Network to take our zero waste initiatives to the next level,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. “UofL has made great progress in recent years ramping up our recycling and composting programs and this is the perfect opportunity to build on that progress and to look upstream to reduce waste production overall. It’s a win-win-win when we can save money on both purchasing and disposal while minimizing our environmental impact.”
In 2019, UofL diverted 43% of its waste from landfills, according to the Sustainability Council. The university’s Climate Action Plan has a goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
The temporary PLAN membership offers one-on-one advising, access to zero waste manuals and digital resources, and online workshops and trainings.
Jacob and Lily, both rising juniors, are interviewing UofL staff and administrators “to better understand how they view waste production on campus as a whole along with strictly within their respective departments,” Jacob said. “With the data we collect, Lily and I — along with the help of PLAN — will score the University of Louisville’s progress towards zero waste while also providing for suggestions on how the university can reduce its waste production, and PLAN will compile this into a detailed report.Using this information, I hope the university will see this as an opportunity to take dramatic steps toward zero waste by following the suggestions given by PLAN or by creating our own inventive solutions.”
As zero waste interns, Jacob and Lily will spend the next year advocating for sustainable waste management practices across UofL. As part of their duties, they are managers of the Free Store, where students and staff can donate household items and clothing and take things they need for free. After being moved out of Unitas Hall, the Free Store is currently looking for a new permanent home in the Student Activities Center.
Jacob is double-majoring in sustainability and geography, while Lily is a sustainability major.
PLAN has about 70 member schools in North America. Visit postlandfill.org and register with any louisville.edu address to get started.